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Parry outshines Mickelson and Els as Scottish Open begins

Phil Mickelson, the highest-ranked golfer at the Scottish Open, finished two shots behind leader John Parry in the first round.

Story highlights

  • John Parry holds the lead at the Scottish Open after the first round at Castle Stuart
  • Four-time major winner Phil Mickelson is within touching distance, two shots behind
  • British Open champion Ernie Els struggled and is eight shots behind Parry

John Parry upstaged Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els in the first round of the Scottish Open, taking the lead in the final European Tour event before next week's British Open.

The little known Parry, ranked 471st in the world, tallied an eight-under 64 at Castle Stuart's links course in the Scottish Highlands to finish a shot ahead of fellow Englishman Simon Khan.

Mickelson, the highest-ranked golfer in the field at No. 8, was one of seven players tied for third, two shots behind.

Read: Mickelson falls short again

But Els, the reigning British Open champion, struggled on the opening day, carding a par 72 to finish in a tie for 118th.

Parry endured a rocky start to his 2013 campaign but said he gained confidence after tying for 28th at the U.S. Open.

Merion proved to be a challenging course for the elite, so finding himself in the top 30 last month was quite an achievement.

The 26-year-old then finished 10th at Germany's BMW International.

"The U.S. Open has been the catalyst for playing better," Parry told the European Tour's website. "It's renowned as the toughest event you can play and if you can compete in that you can compete in any event."

Parry, whose lone tournament victory came in 2010 in France, didn't make a bogey in his round.

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"It was one of them where it just keeps happening," Parry said. "You wonder why you can't do that every week."

Mickelson knows how difficult winning the U.S. Open is. When he tied for second at Merion, it marked an agonizing sixth runner-up showing.

It was indeed a tough way to end the tournament for the four-time major winner since he held the lead through three rounds.

Mickelson missed the cut at his last event, the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia, and started poorly at Castle Stuart by hitting a bogey.

Mickelson, though, struck an eagle two holes later and dropped only one more shot.

He tied for 16th at the Scottish Open last year and tied for 58th in 2011.

""It's great for me to get off to a decent start because I have gotten off to poor starts the last couple of years here and I have been fighting just to make the cut and get into reasonable contention," said Mickelson. "Many of my great rounds in the past have started with a bogey so I wasn't too worried."

With the British Open at Muirfield near Edinburgh beginning next Thursday, Els won't have been pleased with his round.

Read: Els gets better of Scott

His four birdies came with four bogeys, leaving Els with work to do to make the cut.

Jeev Milkha Singh tied for 10th.

He missed a movie premiere in India -- the film was based on his father who nearly won a medal at the 1960 summer Olympics -- to defend his Scottish Open title.