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The PGA TOUR hops across the pond for a co-sanctioned Scottish Open.
This is year one of an agreement that allows for PGA TOUR members to take on a links test ahead of The Open Championship while some of the DP World Tour members travel to Kentucky for the Barbasol Championship.
We'll see a full field of 156 golfers lining up to start the week. The top 65 and ties will play the weekend.
While it may be a new event on the PGA TOUR schedule, this will be the 40th running of the Scottish Open and the fourth straight at The Renaissance Club. Let's jump right in and talk about the cousre.
The Renaissance Club is the host venue this week. It has hosted each of the last three editions of this event.
This Tom Doak design was opened in 2008 so it's a relatively new course when compared to most of the PGA TOUR stops in Scotland.
It's a par 70 that plays to 7,237 yards on the card.
The course is described as a links-like layout or "American Links" by some. While it may not pass the purist test in terms of links grading, there are certainly enough elements of links golf to give these pros a nice warmup for next week's Open Championship.
As you expect from a links layout, the course is generous off the tee. Golfers aren't really restricted but heavy rough and deep bunkers will keep golfers on their toes.
Iron play is where the contenders separate from the pretenders at The Renaissance Club. The greens have a lot of humps and bumps in them so being precise with the irons is the best way to avoid three-putts or tricky up-and-down situations.
There is some run-it-up golf played here but a bit less than the average links layout.
The turf is red fescue which lends itself to firm and fast conditions. Although, the previous three editions have been played in uncharacteristically soft conditions. The greens run on the slow side of the speed spectrum, as we typically see when playing by the coast.
Looking at the last three years of data, we've seen the field shoot 1.22 shots under-par, on average. That means lots of scoring is to be expected, but Mother Natures will ultimately make the final call. This is links golf, after all.
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Quotes on the Course
Matt Kuchar: "I think links golf, keeping it out of those pot bunkers is such a crucial thing. Those are basically shot penalties."
Kalle Samooja: "So to get the right yardage for the approach, that's I think the main key. The greens are quite tricky to hit close, so you need to hit some good, accurate approach shots and that's what was the main focus basically for the whole week. Hit really good iron shots and wedges."
Justin Thomas: "The speed of the greens, I think all of us had a hard time getting them to the hole on some of them. So just getting accustomed to that. I felt like a couple putts, if I would have had the speed correct, I would have made."
Xander Schauffele: "I've heard a lot of the European folks say it's an American links-style course. Obviously I think the greens are what makes it more of an American-style links. They are very dramatic in undulation and slope, so you might be pushed towards chipping in certain areas versus the traditional putt around the greens."
Keep it out of the bunkers with your drives, dial in your irons, and then figure out the green speeds.
Let's look at the leaderboards over the last five years and see where the most crossover success can be found, when it comes to other courses played on the PGA TOUR or DP World Tour:
Alfred Dunhill Links Rota
--Old Course at St. Andrews
Le Golf National
The general theme gravitates toward other links layouts or in the case of Le Golf National, an emphasis on iron play with links-style bunkering.
Thursday: Sunny with a high of 71 degrees. Winds at 10 to 15 MPH.
Friday: Sunny with a high of 71degrees. Winds at 12 to 16 MPH.
It looks like wind will be a part of the equation all week with a steady breeze present for the entirety of the event.
Golfers to Watch
He got his first taste of Scottish golf last year when he posted a top 15 here at TRC. While inexperienced on links layouts, he flashed his upside with a second-round 63 which lapped the field by more than seven shots. Funny to look back just a year ago and see he was 19th in the OWGR but he's now a prolific winner and the World No. 1 golfer for over three months now.
Speaking of rising up the ranks, the recent major winner has top 15s in two of his three appearances at The Renaissance Club and now has added distance in his arsenal. This will be his first start since becoming a major champ. Will the added media attention add too much pressure or will it be business as usual?
He may have gotten DQ'd from Monday's pro-am but we shouldn't let that deter us from giving him a look for the Scottish. He has creativity in his DNA and that is a key ingredient when it comes to consistent success on links layouts. The Texan has finished top 15 in four of his last six starts at The Open, but will be playing this week's course for the first time.
While his baseline stats may not line up with the top of the field this week, his course knowledge is second to none at The Renaissance Club. This is a home game for Ramsay. He's posted top 35s in two of his three starts here with a missed cut in the other (2020).
The Englishman has a reputation for crushing on links layouts. That reputation has held true at TRC with a playoff loss in 2020 and a T26 last year. He arrives with top 15s in four of his last eight starts. For someone that gets heckled for not winning in the States, it would be pretty funny to finally see him win a PGA TOUR event... outside of the States.
The big hitter has racked up podiums in four of his last six worldwide events. He's missed the cut in two of his three starts here, though, with a T44 in the other. Will recent form or course history win out this week?
Ranking the Field
1. Scottie Scheffler
2. Jon Rahm
3. Justin Thomas
4. Xander Schauffele
5. Matt Fitzpatrick
6. Patrick Cantlay
7. Cameron Smith
8. Collin Morikawa
9. Jordan Spieth
10. Will Zalatoris
11. Viktor Hovland
12. Sam Burns
13. Joaquin Niemann
14. Sungjae Im
15. Tommy Fleetwood
16. Hideki Matsuyama
17. Billy Horschel
18. Max Homa
19. Corey Conners
20. Tyrrell Hatton