It’s rare in recent years for the European Tour to overshadow the PGA Tour, even for a single week. But that will be the case this weekend when most of the world’s top players will use the Scottish Open to prepare for next week’s Open Championship.
Four of the top five players in the world will be at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland, as they take a week to acclimate to golf in the UK.
Rahm returns for Scottish Open
US Open champion Jon Rahm will return to action for the first time since his win at Torrey Pines last month. The world’s top-ranked golfer comes in as a +750 favorite to win the Scottish Open, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Rahm says he’s looking forward to playing in both Scotland and England over the next two weeks.
“I’ve had a lot of success in this area of the world, although so far I’ve only been able to win in Ireland, Rahm told reporters. “There’s not many players that can say they have won the Irish Open, Scottish Open and The Open, right? That would be something incredible. Definitely I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to win it.”
Rahm heads a familiar cast of characters in the field. World No. 2 Dustin Johnson is skipping the event, but Justin Thomas (+1900), Collin Morikawa (+1500), and Xander Schauffele (+1200) are all playing this weekend. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy (+1400) and Tyrrell Hatton (+1900) lead a long list of British golfers who are competing for the title as well.
McIlroy praises improved Renaissance Club course
McIlroy says the course is playing much more difficult than it has in the past, something that attracted him – and perhaps others – to the Scottish Open as a warmup for The Open next week.
“It’s a good test. I think they have added a couple of tees. It’s a bit longer. The rough’s up a bit more than it probably was last time,” McIlroy said, via The Irish Times. “Maybe players might just get punished a little more or wayward shots, which is sort of what you’re looking for. You’ve got to stand up and hit some good golf shots and you want to be challenged a little bit. I think the set up this week is pretty good.”
There’s plenty to play for at the Scottish Open, even for lesser-known golfers who might not compete with the biggest names at the top of the leaderboard. The leading three players who aren’t already qualified for The Open Championship and make the cut this weekend will earn automatic invitations to the Royal St. George’s Golf Course next weekend, making this the last chance for many European players to qualify for the tournament. A total of 51 players in the field have already qualified for The Open.