There are pros and cons to playing the Scottish Open before The Open Championship
GULLANE, Scotland – In theory, the Scottish Open is the game’s ultimate major championship tune-up. Players accustomed to a steady diet of parkland courses can test the waters of links golf, and there’s always a good chance of a “proper” Scottish summer, which is to say extreme weather.
The former has turned the PGA Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event into something of a must-play for many of the game’s top players. The latter, however, can be a double-edged sword.
Sunday at The Renaissance Club was about as “Scottish” as one would want, with temperatures dropping into the low 50s and winds gusting to 30 mph before the final group had even teed off.
Some players were shaken by the ferocity of the wind while others appreciated the chance to endure Mother Nature’s worst on the eve of the game’s oldest championship, to be played at Hoylake this week.
“You never really know what you’re going to get at an Open, weather-wise, and it’s good to test the extremes. This is pretty much there; it’s not going to get any worse. If it does, we may not be playing,” said Rickie Fowler, who finished tied for 42nd after a closing 74. “It’s fun to hit shots.”
Predictably, the scoring average on Day 4 ballooned to 71.77, more than two shots more difficult than the first three days. Just 13 of 77 players who made the cut broke 70 on Sunday.
What might not be so beneficial heading into The Open Championship is green speeds at the Scottish Open — around 8 ½ on the Stimpmeter. To put that in context, green speeds at the opposite-field Barbasol Championship were 11 ½ on the Stimpmeter, which is the Tour average. Officials at the Scottish Open were forced to dial down the green speeds because of the high winds, but for players used to much quicker putting surfaces, it’s a transition that is probably better forgotten.
“It’s quite an adjustment going from the greens that we usually putt on in America to the greens here. They are much slower, and when they are much slower, you don’t have to read as much break into putts and everything like that,” said Rory McIlroy, who birdied the final two holes to win the Scottish Open.