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'Mickelson effect' drawing stars to Scotland

Call it the 'Phil Mickelson Effect'.The world's top players are lining up to contest this year's Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen.

Rickie Fowler is considering playing in the Scottish Open in July
Rickie Fowler is considering playing in the Scottish Open in July

On top of Europe's best golfers looking forward being present in Aberdeen, more of America's leading players believe Phil Mickelson has got it right in contesting the Scottish Open in the week prior to The Open Championship. Mickelson became the first player ever to win both the Scottish Open and the Open in the same season last summer.

The latest to express interest in teeing-up at Royal Aberdeen are Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler, and both are contesting this week's $6.8m Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The 23-year-old Reed, whose wife is expecting the couple's first child, looks almost assured of being on this year's US Ryder Cup team after winning twice in 2014, including the prestigious WGC - Cadillac Championship.

Reed, currently ranked 25th in the world, revealed he has competed just once before in Scotland and that was in the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

"I went to the European Tour Q-School and got through to the finals and I was given an invitation into the Dunhill Links and I just loved it, it was the first time I ever played links golf," said Reed.

"I was setting up on the tee alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez, the practice tee, and just loved the whole experience and can't wait to get back.

"It's why I'm considering doing what Phil did last year and play the Scottish but at this stage it will all depend on the baby and whether she will be able to travel with us.

"But whatever I would love to go over early and also maybe play Gleneagles so we'll see."

Fowler's appearance, along with the confirmation of the presence of his good friend Rory McIlroy at Royal Aberdeen, would be a double boost for Scotland's under-20 golf fans.

Like Reed, Fowler also has competed just once as a professional in Scotland and that was also missing the cut in last year's Open.

"I'm considering playing the Scottish Open but nothing definite at this stage," said Fowler. "Apart playing The Open last year, I've only played in Scotland the once and that was Glasgow Gailes in 2007 on our way to Royal County Down.

"I know whether or not I do play the Scottish I am going over early ahead of the Open just to play some links courses like the Old Course at St Andrews as that is something I have always wanted to do.

"And I like what Phil did last year as it helps getting into a little bit of a rhythm heading into a major. Jack [Nicklaus] always said it best that a lot of guys are eliminated just because of the thought it is a major, and mentally you are a little bit too worried about it."

At this stage the sponsor will afford 11 invitations with the US-based Scottish pair of Martin Laird and Russell Knox sure to get two.

That would lead nine to be divided up among 'value added' entrants but both Reed and Fowler, if they do confirm, are sure to add greatly to an already impressive line-up.

Laird bounced back from missing the cut last week at Hilton Head with a two-under-par 70. The Scot had three birdies and just one bogey to be trailing five shots behind Sweden's Peter Hanson who grabbed the clubhouse lead in very hot and humid conditions with a seven-under-par 67.

Laird capped his round with back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th where he rolled in a 14-footer. "I hit the ball good but didn't make than many putts," said Laird.

"I also had a couple of nice saves but overall it could have been a little better as two of the par fives I had easy up-and-downs from the bunker but didn't manage to do that. So it's good sign when I shoot two under and I left three or four out there."

And while Laird will now look to take a bigger bite out of the New Orleans course this afternoon, he was reminded not to go fishing for stray golf balls in the water hazards by the sight of an snapping alligator lurching out of the water to grab an unsuspecting turtle sunning itself on the bank.

Russell Knox, the other Scot in this week's $6.8m event, was late to tee off.

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