Phil Mickelson paid fulsome tribute to Tom Watson on Wednesday, pre-empting any questions he might face about their testy relationship at next week`s British Open at St Andrews.
The American was famously forthright about Watson the last time he was in Scotland for the Ryder Cup in late September of last year.
On that occasion, following Europe`s thumping of the US team, player Mickelson panned Watson`s captaincy, saying he had got "the formula" wrong.
It was a rare break with team bonding that made waves on both sides of the Atlantic with Watson, who at 65 had been the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history, later saying that he took full responsibility for the crushing loss.
The eight-time major winner will be to the fore once again next week when he plays in his last British Open, having won the tournament five times.
Addressing a press conference ahead of the Scottish Open at Gullane, Mickelson told journalists he thought he would get his answer in first.
"I thought I would get asked about Tom Watson and just the only thing I would say is that he`s one of the greatest champions this game has ever had, and I hope next week is a celebration of his greatness," he said.
"It`s his last Open Championship and I`m certainly appreciative of all he`s done for the game of golf and admire, and that`s all I really wanted to say on that. All right"