HOYLAKE, England - Phil Mickelson rolled long putts across the practice green in front of the Royal Liverpool clubhouse, some of them going in, most of them the right distance. He chirped to the caddie of Brandt Snedeker about their money game, a Mickelson tradition at the majors. Lefty was in good spirits Monday at the British Open, except for having to return the claret jug. Even that allowed him to reflect on a year of keeping golfs oldest trophy, and the confidence he finally has when he plays links golf. "Its a different feeling for me coming over here now having won this tournament," Mickelson said. "The way I felt was, Am I ever going to break through and play well on links golf and win an Open Championship? Now I know that I can. I know that Ive done it, and it takes a lot of pressure off me." Confidence in links golf? Yes. In his game? That takes a little more work. Not even Mickelson would have imagined when he left Muirfield last summer with the claret jug that he would not have another tournament anywhere in the world. This is the longest he has gone without winning in five years. And except for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January, where he was runner-up, Mickelson hasnt been particularly close. He has missed three cuts. He withdrew twice after narrowly making the cut because of injuries in San Diego and San Antonio. At the Masters, where he is a three-time champion, Mickelson missed the cut for the first time in 17 years. His lone top 10 on the PGA Tour was last August at The Barclays, a tie for sixth when he closed with a 65. So why the smile? "Normally, I would be discourage or frustrated, but Im just not," Mickelson said. "I feel like Ive had some good breakthroughs in some areas. I havent had the results. I know I havent played well. But the parts feel a lot better than the whole right now. And I dont know when it will all click together. I dont know if it will be this week. I dont know if it will be in three weeks or a month or what, but it should be soon." Hes running out of time. Mickelson is No. 12 in the Ryder Cup standings. He has qualified for every team since 1995 — two years after Jordan Spieth was born. He has reached the FedEx Cup finale for the top 30 at the Tour Championship every year since it began in 2007. With only three starts before the playoffs begin, Mickelson is at No. 97. Then again, its easy for Mickelson not to be overly concerned. He is 44 and has been on tour for half of his life, compiling 42 victories on the PGA Tour and five majors, including that claret jug. Its at least been a good year for the jug. He has taken it to golf clubs and corporate outings, shared it with friends and people he had never met. He has let his caddie, Jim Mackay, take it to pose for pictures. Mickelson had only one rule. "One of the things I stressed is that we have to treat the claret jug with reverence and respect that it deserves, and only put good stuff in it," he said. "No bad stuff was allowed. And each person that I brought it to had a different definition of what the good stuff was." One definition was a bottle of 1990 Romanee Conti, which can range in price from $16,000 to about $35,000. "Now, I didnt know what this was when I drank it," Mickelson said. "I just knew that it was really good. And that was the best bottle that was ever put in there." Like fine wine, Mickelson can only hope he gets better with age. Even though he had to overcome arthritis in the middle of the 2010 season, and only eight players older than he is right now have won majors, Mickelson doesnt see that as an obstacle. Sure, he has to work a little harder, train a little better, stretch a little more. "But I feel better than I have in a long time," he said. Padraig Harrington is the last player to repeat as Open champion. Tiger Woods repeated at Royal Liverpool in 2006. Tom Watson won back-to-back some 30 years ago. Winning majors is difficult enough. Winning the same one two years in a row is even harder. Monday was the first full day of practice for most players, while some took the day off. Woods didnt show up at the course after practicing both days on the weekend. Some players from the Scottish Open werent at Hoylake. Others, like Spieth, arrived Monday morning on a charter from the John Deere Classic and went on to play. Mickelson closed with a 65 at Royal Aberdeen to tie for 11th in the Scottish Open. He won the Scottish Open a year ago, and believes the lag putting into a crossing wind, along with seeing the ball react on links courses is a big benefit. Plus, hes never been so enthusiast about golfs oldest championship, mainly because his name is on the trophy. Corey Robinson Jersey . 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Fast forward 30 seconds to the Cavs next possession, with the home team still trailing by three, Spencer Hawes - one of the leagues best passing big men - threw an interception, intended for Tyler Zeller and picked off by DeMar DeRozan.Michael Atherton expects Nick Compton to be dropped for the forthcoming series with Pakistan after another failure with the bat for the Middlesex right-hander. Compton was nicked out for 1 in Englands first innings and could only muster 19 in Englands second innings, before edging Shaminda Eranga to Dinesh Chandimal behind the stumps.Despite rebuilding his international career during the winter tour to South Africa, Compton has averaged 28.70 in 30 innings for England, while his highest score for Middlesex this season has been just 44. Its a bit of déjà vu in the dismissal, similar to most in the series - pushing forward, a little late, and on the heels of his feet, Atherton told Sky Sports. A dismayed Compton on the Lords balcony He just hasnt got going this season, he hasnt got a fifty in any form of cricket this year. He had his opportunity still, when many judges thought he wouldnt get picked for this series.Hes had three games, but not taken that opportunity, and Im afraid I think that will be it for Nick Compton. Somebody else will be given a go against Pakistan.Its a cruel game at times, but you have to perform, otherwise someone else will come in and perform in place of you. That is the brutal truth of sport.His career average of 28.70, and particularly his average of 12.75, at the age he is, 32, its time for other players like Scott Borthwick, who will be pushing for a place now..ddddddddddddThe series victory in South Africa bought him time, but it only buys you so much time, and at the end of the day you have to perform. Hes had that opportunity, but has just not got going this year.It has also been a frustrating Test match for Hampshire skipper James Vince. James Vince looks back at his broken wickets after being bowled by Nuwan Pradeep The 25-year-old managed just 10 before being clean bowled by Nuwan Pradeep in Englands first innings and was dismissed the same way by the Sri Lankan right-hander in the second innings for a first-ball duck.The jury is out [on Vince] but hell play against Pakistan, Atherton said.What we know happens though is that Compton will go, someone else comes in and then the pressure transfers to someone like James Vince.Hell get his opportunity against Pakistan, but he needs runs and there will be pressure to perform.Watch live coverage of day four of the third Investec Test from 10.30am on Sunday on Sky Sports 2. Before then, catch highlights from day three at 10pm on Sky Sports 2, followed by The Verdict - with Charles Colvile, Bob Willis, Jonathan Trott and Russel Arnold - at 11pm on the same channel. 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