It's going to be hard to part company with the Claret Jug - Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson admits he will be sad to return the Claret Jug ahead of his defence of the Open Championship at Hoylake, although he might be lucky to still have it in his possession.
"It has been a fun year with the Claret Jug and it's been really interesting to see the emotional response of people that get to hold it or drink out of it and how much they appreciate what a great trophy it is," Mickelson said.
"I've taken it to some of the courses that I'm a member of back in San Diego and left it there in the locker room while I go play and guys will take pictures of it and take sips out of it. People that really appreciate the game of golf understand and know what a privilege it is to be able to hold it.
"I'm sad to give it back but I'm also hopeful that I'll have a chance to have a it for another year sometime soon, if not this one."
When he arrived in Scotland 12 months ago, Mickelson had never won a tournament on British soil and admitted the greatest challenge of his career was adapting to links-style golf.
Two weeks later he boarded a plane back to California carrying the Claret Jug and Scottish Open trophy and has made the trip to Royal Aberdeen for this week's Aberdeen Asset Management Open looking to do the same.
"I've been over in Europe now for two weeks already, I'm enjoying my time here and looking forward to playing some golf," added Mickelson, who has been in Greece with his wife Amy and their three children.
"I love these two events. They were two of the most memorable events of my career arguably last year. Having my family here, spending the two weeks here and winning both events was something I'll always cherish.
"Walking up the 18th hole at Muirfield knowing I had the tournament in the grasp was really the greatest feeling, to be able to take advantage of that moment and not have to grind it out but really enjoy the walk. I'll always remember that and it's a very emotional time for me.
"I think Royal Aberdeen is a great preparation for next week and given the forecast for some potential rain and rough weather next week, having the chance to get acclimated to it this week is a great benefit.
"Tomorrow is supposed to be terrible weather and I hope it is because I would love to be able to get out and play in that stuff that I never get a chance to back home, and have actually started to play pretty well in over the years. It's fun and it's a great opportunity."
Mickelson's victory at Muirfield also means he needs to win the US Open to become only the sixth man to win all four major championships, although he has already finished runner-up a record six times in that event.
"I'm really surprised I'm even here. I was just going to play the US Open and not even worry about the others," the left-hander joked. "But as I get older and appreciate what each major championship provides as far as an opportunity and a life experience, I just cherish it.
"You think when you're in your 20s that you'll have endless opportunities. You realise as you get older that it doesn't go on forever."
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