The Scottish Open’s return to its traditional July slot this week with a strong field heading to East Lothian just a week before The Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
The Renaissance Club will host the event for a third straight year, after the prestigious European Tour event was held in October last year as Scotland’d Covid-19 restrictions were eased.
But plans to have over 600 spectators a day in attendance had to be scrapped amid a tightening of restrictions, leading England’s Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter the claim that the “buzz” was missing while howling winds and heavy rains did their best to further dampen the occasion.
Nine months on and a limited number of fans will be following the action and will have a number of high-profile names to follow over four-days of action with half of the world’s top 10 in attendance.
World no. 33 Tommy Fleetwood – who was beaten in a play-off by fellow Englishman Aaron Rai at this event last October – is back this week and joined by some serious competition in a markedly stacked field.
Home fans’ hopes will rest with 24-year-old Robert MacIntyre from Oban, who missed out at last week’s Irish Open due to Covid protocols.
“If a Scot could pick one golf tournament to win other than a major, this is going to be it,” he said. “So thankfully it’s not happened this week. We’ve done everything right from isolation to testing.
“I’m not so much preparing for The Open but preparing for this week to try to win. I’m going to give everything I can to be standing here on Sunday night with something special.”
With The Open looming at Royal St George’s next week, the Renaissance Club provides ideal preparation thanks to its testing links layout in the run-up to the only major on British soil.
And after The Open was cancelled in 2020 because of Covid-19, the two-year wait for Ireland’s Shane Lowry to defend the Claret Jug has only increased the sense of excitement and anticipation.
The event is far from simply a warm-up for The Open Championship, however, and as one of four Rolex Series events on the 2021 European Tour, it offers an enhanced prize fund of £5.8m, with just under £1m up for grabs for Sunday’s winner.
If that wasn’t enough, with the biennial battle between Europe and the USA looming at Whitling Straights in September Ryder Cup qualification points are also at stake, making this one of the most eagerly awaited events of the European Tour calendar.
The action will be screened on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Golf with live coverage available from 8am GMT on Thursday morning.
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