The build up to the Open Championship continues apace this week. Following another excellent renewal of the Irish Open at Lahinch it’s time for the European Tour to head to the Renaissance Club for the Scottish Open.
As is traditional for the event before the Open, some big names from the PGA Tour will join European Tour stalwarts to sharpen their links game. That’s given us a strong field to enjoy which includes 2015 champion, Rickie Fowler. He has played some very good golf this season and is ready to wow the Scottish galleries again with another strong challenge for the Scottish Open at 14/1 with Betfair.
The Scottish Open is a nomadic tournament, moving around some of the best links courses that Scotland has to offer. It breaks new ground this year with a first visit to the Renaissance club in North Berwick. A new course always provides challenges for both players and punters but that difficulty is lessened rather given that we know it must be a true test of links to host this tournament.
Opened in 2008, the Renaissance Club lacks the lived in feel of so many of the world class links courses in this part of the world. The course designers did all they could to make it fit the bill with deep bunkers, run off areas around the green and the use of the natural gorse but there is no doubt it looks and feels different to the more historical tracks that have hosted the Scottish Open over the years.
Although it’s always a big ask for a course to host a selection of the world’s best golfers, the Renaissance Club has been very well received since it opened. It will be very interesting to see how difficult the organisers can (and want to) make the course play by tucking flags and speeding up the greens. They also have the option to push the tees back to make the course play longer than its official yardage of 7,136.
|The Renaissance Club||North Berwick, Scotland||7,136 Yards||$7,000,000|
The quality of the field that is always assembled for the Scottish Open and the difficulty of the links courses that the event visits has led to a very high class list of recent winners. The last five winners includes major champions, Ryder Cup stars and players with previous strong form on links courses. It’s that links pedigree that punters should be prioritising in their search for winning bet for this year’s edition.
|Year||Winner||Course||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Brandon Stone||Gullane||-20||4 Strokes|
|2017||Rafael Cabrera-Bello||Dundonald Links||-13||Playoff|
|2016||Alexander Noren||Castle Stuart||-14||1 Stroke|
|2015||Rickie Fowler||Gullane||-12||1 Stroke|
|2014||Justin Rose||Royal Aberdeen||-16||2 Strokes|
Analysis: High Class Links Players to Come to the Fore
A selection of the best players in the world have used the Scottish Open as a chance to warm up for the Open but this is a very big tournament in its own right. It’s a Rolex Series event with a big prize fund and lots of important world ranking points up for grabs so even the highest ranked players in the field will be taking it incredibly seriously.
That suggests we should be in line for another high class winner but only if they have a proven links golf ability. Justin Thomas, for example, is good enough to beat everybody in the field on his day but has yet to show he can do it on this sort of course so is not one to support.
Fowler to Relish the Change in Scenery
Rickie Fowler is a regular competitor in the Scottish Open. The popular American believes in the importance of playing competitive links golf ahead of the Open and his performances in Scotland have propelled him towards some strong challenges for the Claret Jug.
As a former champion, Fowler has very good memories of this tournament. He enjoys playing in front of the knowledgeable Scottish galleries and the challenges posed by links golf. Having grown up playing a lot of golf in the wind, Fowler can cope when conditions get tricky and he has an excellent short game in terms of technique and imagination.
It’s been a decent season already for Fowler. The highlight was his Phoenix Open win and the top 10 finish at the Masters but he is very keen for even better. He has a real chance of contending at Royal Portrush next week and can head to Northern Ireland on the back of a win.
Hatton to Make the Most of Weekend Off
It doesn’t take much to frustrate Tyrrell Hatton on the golf course. The Englishman has been the subject of some ridicule for displays of petulance over the years but his supporters say it is just a reflection of how much of a competitor he is. Hatton has certainly built on his competitive spirit to forge a successful career which includes some brilliant results on link golf courses.
Hatton’s record in Scotland stands up to almost everybody else in the field this week. He’ll be especially keen to get going at the Renaissance Club after missing the cut at Lahinch last week and could just bounce back in top class style by challenging for the Scottish Open title at 33/1 with bet365.
Final Verdict: Rickie Fowler to win
Rickie Fowler doesn’t have quite as much links golf experience as many of the British and Irish golfers in the field for the Scottish Open but that hasn’t held him back previously. He relishes the sort of challenges he’ll face this week and could well get his hands on this trophy for the second time at 14/1 with Ladbrokes.
About the Scottish Open
The Scottish Open, which is currently being sponsored by Aberdeen Standard Investments, is one of the European Tour’s most prestigious events and, as of the 2020 season, one of eight tournaments that are part of the highly lucrative (we think a purse of $7m qualifies as highly lucrative!) Rolex Series.
Over the years, the tournament has been played at various courses across Scotland, including Gleneagles, Loch Lomond, Carnoustie and Castle Stuart. Since its first staging, the Scottish Open has had various sponsors and different names but has always remained a huge event.
The Scottish Open has been a Rolex Series event since 2017 and has been part of the Open Qualifying Series since it started in 2014. This tournament gives players one last chance to qualify for The Open (alongside the concurrent John Deere Classic in the States), whilst for those already eligible it is the perfect links course preparation, being typically scheduled for the week before the oldest major. At the time of writing, the latest Scottish Open took place at Renaissance Club in North Berwick in 2019 and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger prevailed in that one.
You’ll Need to Go Low to Win in Scotland
Despite the Scottish Open only starting in 1972, it has grown into an important competition on the European Tour calendar. We have been treated to plenty of thrills and spills in this prestigious event in Scotland throughout the years. In more recent times a really low score has been needed to prevail in this one, partly due to the ability of modern players to overpower the old links courses, especially if the weather is benign.
Not since 1998 has a score single-digits under par been enough to land this event. Lee Westwood won that year with a total of -8 at Loch Lomond, although a year earlier Tom Lehman was 19 under for his four rounds at the same course. In 2019 -22 was only good enough for a play-off, with Brandon Stone shooting -20 to win in 2018. Indeed, the average winning score between 1999 and 2019 inclusive was an incredible -15.33 under par. You’re going to need a hot putter to win the Scottish Open.
Nowadays, the Scottish Open plays a vital role on the European Tour, but that has not always been the case. The first two editions of this event, in 1972 and 1973, were both broadcast on live TV in the UK but then the Scottish Open went into hibernation. In fact, from 1974 to 1985, no tournament even took place, which is why 1986 will always be an important year for the this championship.
The Scottish Open made a very welcome return in ’86, replacing the Glasgow Open, which had been running from 1983 to 1985. The tournament had one year at Haggs Castle Golf Club before making the move to Gleneagles until 1994 while then being known as the Bell’s Scottish Open.
The Loch Lomond World Invitational replaced the tournament in 1997 having been introduced to the calendar a year earlier (when the Scottish Open was also played). However, from 2001 the Loch Lomond event would be known as the Scottish Open, which it remains to this day, with that change being applied retrospectively too, to past editions of the Loch Lomond World Invitational. That gave us the very odd position of 1996 having two Scottish Open champions, Ian Woosnam who won the “real” tournament and Thomas Bjørn who won at Loch Lomond. A nice fact for golfing geeks out there.
Several popular courses across Scotland have held the premier event. Carnoustie, Loch Lomond, Castle Stuart, Royal Aberdeen, Gullane, Dundonald and Renaissance have all hosted the Scottish Open, with Gleneagles’ King’s Course, the aforementioned Haggs Castle, and the inaugural two hosts, Downfield and St Andrews completing the list.
Memorable Moment – Montgomerie’s Win on Home Soil
The Scottish Open has thrown up several memorable moments since Neil Coles won the first event at Downfield in Dundee back in 1972. We had Gordon Sherry’s magic moment in the spotlight in 1995 (he finished fourth as an amateur), and Justin Rose’s heroics in 2014, but Colin Montgomerie’s famous victory at Loch Lomond in 1999 really stands out.
Montgomerie is without doubt one of the most successful and popular British golfers of all time. The Glasgow-born ace won a vast number of European Tour events, but his victory at Loch Lomond in 1999 will go down as one of the Scottish star’s most pleasing wins of his illustrious career.
‘Monty’ trailed superb Spaniard Sergio Garcia by seven shots, but he was not to be denied on home turf, going on to finish three shots clear of the field to lift the trophy. Montgomerie went on to win the Order of Merit at the end of the season.
Plenty of players from the UK have prevailed in this tournament over the years. However, Montgomerie remains the only Scot to have won any version of the Scottish Open, adding even further prestige to that famous win. As we can see from the list below, Woosnam’s three victories make him the most successful Brit in this tournament and, indeed, no player from anywhere else in the world can match Woosie’s hat-trick of Scottish Open triumphs.
List of UK Winners
|Year / Tournament Name||Winner / Venue|
|1972 (Sunbeam Electric Scottish Open)||Neil Coles (Downfield)|
|1986 (Bell’s Scottish Open)||David Feherty (Haggs Castle)|
|1987 (Bell’s Scottish Open)||Ian Woosnam (Gleneagles)|
|1988 (Bell’s Scottish Open)||Barry Lane (Gleneagles)|
|1990 (Bell’s Scottish Open)||Ian Woosnam (Gleneagles)|
|1994 (Bell’s Scottish Open)||Carl Mason (Gleneagles)|
|1996 (Scottish Open)||Ian Woosnam (Carnoustie)|
|1998 (Standard Life World Invitational)||Lee Westwood (Loch Lomond)|
|1999 (Standard Life Loch Lomond)||Colin Montgomerie (Loch Lomond)|
|2008 (Barclays Scottish Open)||Graeme McDowell (Loch Lomond)|
|2011 (Barclays Scottish Open)||Luke Donald (Castle Stuart)|
|2014 (Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open)||Justin Rose (Royal Aberdeen)|
Does the Scottish Open Date to 1936?
Whilst most people accept 1972 as the first edition of the Scottish Open, some golfing historians claim that the inaugural tournament dates way back to 1935. Indeed, the Glasgow Herald from that year reported on a “New Scottish Open Championship being played at Gleneagles.
This was a non-R&A event and golf’s governing body objected to it being called a “Championship”. Despite ongoing wrangling it was held again the following year but ultimately the R&A got their way and that was that for the Scottish Open until almost 40 years later. At least it was worth the wait!