The Scottish Open is traditionally the warm up match for many North American professional golfers. With less than a week until The Open Championship, the world’s best golfers are acclimating themselves to a different style of golf that only the Scottish countryside can offer. At least, some of the world’s best.
With Rory McIlroy sidelined with an unfortunate injury, many golfing pundits will look to the likes of Justin Rose, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Graeme McDowell to topple the reigning 2015 Major Champion, Jordan Spieth. And some might have expected to see more of the top player’s slugging it out at the Scottish Open.
Surprisingly, only three of the top 10 golfers in the world are actually playing this weekend. Jordan Spieth, who has decided to participate in the John Deere Classic, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler, who are playing in the Scottish Open. One would think that more of the world’s best would tee it up the week before heading to St. Andrews. I guess each player has their own method to prepare for next week’s Major and, regardless of what they choose; winning the Claret Jug is their ultimate goal.
Played at the Gullane Golf Club and hosted by Aberdeen Asset Management, the Scottish Open traditionally attracts more top named players. However, this year it seems that many have decided to skip this event. Or have they? Although the top players may not be in the field, the European Tour players have definitely filled out the ranks of great players! To add to the strong field there are close to 100 European Tour Champions, 8 Major champions; 11 former Scottish Open champions; and a plethora of Ryder Cup players.
Being the poor cousin to The Open Championship, it is easy to understand that this event does not sit high on the top golfer’s priorities; however, it is rich history and offers more than just an opportunity to prepare for next week’s Major. Players like Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker seem to understand how much the Scottish Open has to offer and as a result have teed it up this weekend in Gullane.
Held 43 years ago for the first time at Downfield Golf Club near Dundee, the Scottish Open is the last opportunity for players to qualify for The Open Championship. This year’s event offers one of the largest purses on the European Tour and has attracted a strong European contingent.
A burning question about this year’s Scottish Open is whether the top players in the world are snubbing at the opportunity to prepare for The Open Championship? Is it possible that Jordan Spieth’s dominance in the previous two Majors intimidates the rest of the field such that they do not want to prepare for the howling winds, tough terrain, and crater like sand traps? I guess we will never know the real answer.
The Scottish Open is a great event. It is a bit surprising at the lack of top professional golfers in the field, but it does afford the opportunity for players like Thorbjørn Olesen, Richard Finch and Matthew Nixon to with the Scottish National Title and qualify for next week’s Major. With only one winner in the history of the Scottish Open going on to win The Open Championship the next week, Phil Mickelson in 2013, it is possible that many top players believe it is best to rest and prepare their game away from the austere conditions that Scottish Courses offer.
The Scottish Open provides many opportunities for players to hone their skills before next week’s big dance. It is steep in history and continues to grow in notoriety. Whether you think the Scottish Open was snubbed by the world’s best players or not, there is still plenty of excitement left this weekend and who knows, we may even see a repeat champion in Justin Rose!
The Grateful Golfer – Pundit Arena