To be or not to be……at the Scottish Open that is. Only 47 of the already qualified entrants for the Open Championships pitched up at Castle Stuart, including only five of the top 20. Which group – the attendees or the stay-aways – will have the advantage going in to The Open?
The man who knows most about winning Majors, Jack Nicklaus, did not like to play in a tournament the week before a Major. But four-time Major winner Phil Mickelson predicted that “The winner of next week’s Open will be in the field this week. It is such an advantage to play, to get over here first of all and get acclimated to the time; second, to play links golf on such a great course as this.”
The event is the Barclays Scottish Open and, as one of Mickelson’s sponsors is Barclays, he was going to be here regardless. But when the Scottish Open migrated from Loch Lochmond to a links course it was hoped this would make it more attractive to others preparing for The Open.
One who has come is world number one Luke Donald: “I feel playing links golf leading into The Open is very important.” World number two Lee Westwood is another at Castle Stuart. “I like to play in the week before any Major. I like that pressure of holing four-footers in a competitive atmosphere,” he explained.
Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is competing this week – but in the US. The farmer’s son was swayed by a promise from the sponsors of the John Deere Classic of a tour of their equipment plant in Illinois.
“It was not an easy decision but it I always wanted to go to the John Deere factory. I got in the combine and drove around. It was great fun.”
Some have little choice but to play in the Scottish Open – those who have yet to qualify for The Open. The leading player, not otherwise exempt, in the top five at Castle Stuart gets a place at St George’s.