Five Golfers to Watch at Scottish Open: A Fan's Preview

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While the John Deere Classic is lacking a lot of big names, golf fans can find a lot of star power overseas. In the final tuneup before the British Open, the 2012 Scottish Open will feature some pretty big names when it starts on July 12. Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson, and Martin Kaymer are among the biggest names playing in the tournament. Clearly, the field is much more impressive than the one you will find at the John Deere Classic.

As the players try to make one last push before the year's third major, here is a look at the ones you should watch the most:

Phil Mickelson

When we last saw Phil, he was missing the cut at the Greenbrier Classic. It's been a tough stretch lately, as Mickelson has finished outside of the top 60 in three straight events. He has already missed the cut twice in 2012 and has dropped down the rankings in terms of scoring average. Still, he finished second at the British Open in 2011 and would love to take some positive energy into that tournament this year. I would expect a decent performance from him here.

Luke Donald

Donald is still the world's top-ranked player and won this event in 2011. He does have two victories in 2012, including the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour. However, Donald is still seeking that first major win. He finished 32nd at the Masters and missed the cut at the U.S. Open, so 2012 has been strong for him in that area so far. A strong finish here could give him a boost just in time for the British Open.

Padraig Harrington

Harrington, who has won the British Open twice, is having a strange year so far. He can claim top-10 finishes at each of the year's first two majors, including a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open. However, he has been fairly ordinary outside of that and currently ranks 63rd in the FedEx Cup standings. A win at the Scottish Open won't help him in that area but it could give him confidence as he seeks the fourth major title of his career.

Ernie Els

Els showed a lot of life at the U.S. Open in June. Though he finished ninth, he was in winnable position until very late. For a guy that missed the cut at the last three majors in which he played, that was a huge achievement. He has three top-5 finishes on the PGA Tour and ranks a respectable 32nd in the FedEx Cup standings. A nice showing here will convince more people that he is a threat to win the British Open.

Louis Oosthuizen

The 2010 British Open champion very nearly won his second major earlier this year before losing to Bubba Watson in a playoff at the Masters. In addition to ranking 40th in the FedEx Cup standings, Oosthuizen has two European Tour wins in 2012. After missing the cut at the U.S. Open, he is looking for momentum at this tournament.

* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played the game since high school.

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