City A.M.’s resident golf columnist Sam Torrance previews this week’s Scottish Open
The week before the Open Championship is always a very prestigious one for Europe as America’s finest head across the pond to tune up for the major, but this year it is extra special.
The Scottish Open, which is taking place at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, boasts the strongest field ever assembled on the DP World Tour outside of the Open itself.
All four current major champions and 14 of the world top 15 will be teeing it up on Thursday. It’s a very proud moment for Scotland.
Part of the Rolex Series and now co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour thanks to the closer cooperation between the tours, it’s a huge event on the European circuit.
You can’t hide from the fact that the 150th Open is taking place next week just 20 mile north at St Andrew’s, so players will have that fact in the back of their minds.
But that will not make any difference to how much they want to win the Scottish Open. And for the players who have yet to secure their place in the field, there are three Open spots available for those who finish in the top 10 on Sunday.
For everyone, it is very useful for easing their game into top gear, getting a feel for the wind and familiarising themselves with the challenges of seaside golf.
With such a good field it is difficult to pick a winner but there are a few players I will be keeping an eye on while on commentary duty over the coming days.
English players have had a strong record at this tournament in recent years, with one winner in Aaron Rai and two runners-up in its three years at the Renaissance Club.
And if there is one Englishman to watch right now it’s Matt Fitzpatrick, who will be playing a tour event for the first time since winning the US Open last month.
Fitzpatrick, who made a three-man play-off at the Scottish Open last year which was won by Min Woo Lee, excelled in the tough test that was Brookline and the rough will be severe here too.
Of the other big names, Jon Rahm is a great player in windy conditions and finished seventh on his debut at the tournament last year.
I expect Collin Morikawa to do well as he prepares to defend the Claret Jug. The American showed signs of a return to form at the US Open.
This will be a different kind of test to the ones world No1 Scottie Scheffler is used to, although I was impressed when watching him up close at the Open at Royal St George’s last summer.
Of the home contingent at this Scottish Open, David Law arrives on a high after booking his place at the Open with a top-five finish in Ireland last week.
I’ve had a chance to catch up with Bob MacInytre, who is hopeful of a strong week, and it would be nice to see something from Stevie Gallacher.
Sam Torrance OBE is a former Ryder Cup-winning captain and one of Europe’s most successful golfers. Follow him @torrancesam