The Scottish Open, returning to the links course at Castle Stuart for the second time, is a major preparation for next week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s. Unlike last year’s event which was played in a rare Scottish typhoon requiring full snorkel gear and a wet suit, it looks like it will be more normal Scottish weather will prevail for this year’s event.
Luke Donald, last year’s winner in the 54 hole event, leads a field of top players from around the world who will use this for an Open tune-up. Phil Mickelson, Padrig Harrington, Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer, and Louis Oosthuizen are among those major winners in the field this week.
Padrig speaks for many of them when he said, “I like to play links golf before the Open…It’s a distinctly different form of golf than what we regularly get…..there is no substitute for playing competitive links golf.”
Castle Stuart is one of the few new links golf courses opened in Scotland recently. It is the handiwork of the accomplished Gil Hanse, an American designer of all things, who recently won the designer derby and got tapped to design the course in Brazil that will host the introduction of golf to the Olympics in 2016. Castle Stuart got strong reviews from those professionals who slogged through the event last year. Hopefully drier, firmer conditions will give everyone a chance to play it as it was designed.
After the first round it looks like the wind was not blowing. Francesco Molinari torched the course with a 10 under par 62 to take the lead by three. Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer both shot 5 under 67’s and are in a tie for 12th. Good scores abounded-it looks like it will take under par to make the half way cut this year. Mickelson is at plus 1 after his first round so he will have work to do to make the weekend play.
Knowing how chameleon the weather can be on the links of Scotland it is anybody’s guess what the Scottish golf gods will have in store for the players over the next three days.