Castle Stuart looking for redemption
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2012 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open | Preview | 10 Jul 2012
After a horror initiation as host of the Aberdeeen Asset Management Scottish Open last year, Castle Stuart Golf Links gets a chance to redeem itself this week when the event is played at the Mark Parsinen and American Gil Hanse designed layout overlooking the Moray Firth between Inverness and Nairn.
Already being touted as one of the best golfing layouts in Britain, the layout was opened in 2009 and has received accolades from architectural, golfing and tourism pundits and authorities worldwide.
The tournament suffered from a deluge of rain last year and was reduced to 54 holes, in many ways negating the effect of moving the event to a links layout as the lead in to the Open Championship.
The then World Number One Luke Donald helped the cause by winning the event in impressive style and providing a great boost for its inaugural staging.
This year the weather is expected to again be wet although not to the extent it was last year.
Perhaps surprisingly Donald is the only player from the world top ten in the field this week although players such as Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson add a lot of class to the field despite Kaymer’s very disappointing week in Paris last week.
While the field might not enjoy the presence of the likes of Rory McIlory and Lee Westwood to name a few of the current elite of the game who are not in the event, it is a very evenly matched line-up.
Players such as Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Nicloas Colsaerts, Louis Oosthuizen, Angel Cabrera, Martin Laird and Fredrik Jacobson to name but a few add considerable class to the event.
Much interest will focus on the event not only because of Donald’s presence but because the attention of world golf switches to Europe for the next two weeks with the Open Championship being played a few hundred kilometres south in Lancashire next week.
As a lead in to the Open Championship, whether it be at Loch Lomond or Castle Stuart, the Scottish Open has never provided a winner of the Open Championship the following week so it will be interesting to see if 2012 can break that trend.
Donald arrives to defend his title having taken a break from competitive golf over the past month. He missed the cut at the US Open at his last start so there is some concern regarding his current form although as the World Number One and the defending champion he is sure to start as the favourite. Prior to The Olympic Club his form was very good and he was not alone amongst the world’s best to be without weekend work in San Francisco.
Paul Lawrie has played beautifully this year on the European Tour and must be given some chance this week. He was 25th last year at Castle Stuart although given the conditions in 2011 it is perhaps unfair to give the result last year too much respect.
Francesco Molinari will be keen to add this title to the Scottish Open his brother Edoardo won in 2010 and his great final round in Paris on Sunday opens the door for just that.
US based Martin Laird is here to try and claim his own National Open title and as a player good enough to have finished runner-up at the Players Championship earlier this year, his chances must be good. He finished well back in this event at this venue last year but a much improved showing would not surprise.
Phil Mickelson finished well back in this event last year also before his best effort at the Open Championship the following week. While he will be keen to do well this week is as much about preparation for Royal Lytham & St Annes as it is for securing a great finish it seems. Mickelson has played the Scottish Open often in recent years and his more recent efforts at the Open have reaped the benefits of just that.
Aaron Baddeley will head the list of Australians in the field. His form has been mixed of late, a good 9th place finish at the Memorial followed up by lesser efforts in subsequent starts.
Richard Green, Marcus Fraser, Andrew Dodt, Matthew Zions and Brett Rumford make up the remainder of Australians who will tee it up this week.