sport

Mickelson expecting better

Defending Open champion Phil Mickelson admits that his 2014 season has been disappointing so far in terms of results.

But the 44-year-old American says he thinks improved performances are just around the corner, which could mean trouble for his opponents at Hoylake this week.

Mickelson claimed the fifth major title of his career at Muirfield last year, carding a superb final round of 66 to triumph by three shots.

However, this season Mickelson has managed to finish in the top-10 on only one occasion, although he has just completed a solid defence of his Scottish Open title, finishing 11th at Royal Aberdeen on Sunday.

Speaking to the media at Hoylake on Monday, he said: \"Obviously, it hasn't been a good year.

"Normally I would be discouraged or frustrated, but I'm just not. I feel like I've had some good breakthroughs in some areas.

"I haven't had the results and I know I haven't played well but the parts feel a lot better than the whole right now.

\"I don't know when it will all click together. I don't know if it will be this week, in three weeks or a month or what, but it should be soon. I feel like it's really close to being good.

"And, rather than trying to force it or press the issue, I'm going to be patient.

\"I'm driving the ball with more confidence and better than I ever have. I don't know if the stats show it or not, but I know that I am.

\"This has not been a good putting year, I think that's why the results haven't been there.

"But I had a good breakthrough these last couple of weeks since the US Open. Working with

Dave Stockton, I have the direction that I want and I feel much better with the putter.

"But we'll see. That's why we play the game, you just never know.

\"If you look at me, how I feel, it's not the frustration that you would think, given the year I've had relative to the past 20-plus years on Tour."