The abrdn Scottish Open at The Renaissance this week has lost a whole lot of vowels in the title but absolutely nothing in terms of star quality.
There is an element of Covid-19 convenience at work by what is clearly the best field ever in the long (and fairly star-spangled) history of the event. There’s the usual number who would come to get “acclimated” for next week’s Open Championship, even though that experience really isn’t as advertised.
But a lot of players who would demur playing the week before the Open have signed up this year on the grounds that, hell, we might as well go into the bio-bubble a week early. It’ll be easier.
Rory shows up after all
The #RolexSeries is back.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 5, 2021
Rory McIlroy two years ago spoke in such terms that it seemed certain he’d never darken the door of Jerry Sarvadi’s club with its Tom Doak-designed course ever again.
Yet here is Rory, travelling alone because he doesn’t want to put his young family through the protocols. Rather than twiddle his thumbs for a week and have to test again and wait for results and all the rest – you know what? We may as well play.
We have 23 players within the world’s top 60 playing the Scottish this week. There’s four “other” major champions.
The usual measurement of how strong a European Tour field is can be found in the number of Q School qualifiers who get in the field. This week, at the time of writing, it’s just three.
Jon Rahm is there for his first outing since his US Open triumph. Justin Thomas, Colin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris represent the new American wave. The best Europeans – Rory, Hatton, Fitzpatrick, Fleetwood, Westwood, Perez, Poulter and Wallace – are all present.
A little bit of Celtic envy
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 4, 2021
You want another measurement of how good this is? In recent times, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open once made some big noises about being the best-non-major-on-tour. There were ambitions for a $10m prizefund, no less.
Covid, and the loss of Rolex Series status brought a sobering reality. The Irish last week was played for just $3m, with just four players from the world’s top 60 – two of whom were Rory and Shane Lowry, who usually play for obvious reasons.
The Scottish is tied into the pre-Open week for several more years – probably in perpetuity, unless someone takes their eye off the ball. It just makes sense, as Rory conceded last week.
The course near Dirleton – it doesn’t sound as cute as North Berwick but it’s geographically more accurate – had a change of routing and some tree removal after the criticism of 2019.
It played far better for both the men and women in 2020, but it’s still not really a links course. The prep for Sandwich seems to be limited to above-ground conditions, which is always something.
But the long range forecast for Kent is 20 plus degrees all week while it’s solid rainy July – oh, the shock – for East Lothian this week.
A home win this week? Why not?
A final day 68 (-4) enough to take him to -14 total and a current tie for 4th 👏🏽👊🏽
A case of waiting to see how that ends up🤞🏼
— Bounce (@bouncespmgt) July 4, 2021
The odds against a Scottish win should be reduced given so many of the Scots play Renaissance casually on a regular basis. Marc Warren had a shot to win last year – not quite as good as 2012, but close enough.
And you feel that there’s a batch of young Scots ready to graduate into serious tour winners. Robert MacIntyre, obviously – and after a quiet spell under the radar for a month – but also Calum Hill, Connor Syme and also Grant Forrest.
Forrest’s fourth-place finish in Ireland last week equalled his best on tour. There’s a good argument for saying he was the best – at least most consistent – of the group coming out of the amateurs in the last five years. But the others – not just MacIntyre – have pretty much stolen a march on him in the pros.
Forrest lives over the fence from The Renaissance. It should be another good week for the 26-year-old.
The Match – artificial, and that’s the way they like it
The stellar field at The Renaissance does not include Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau. This is not surprising, as Phil dropped the Scottish when they stopped playing the tournament where he said they should.
But the two are otherwise engaged in the third annual “Match”, the made-for-TV and (it seems) betting companies giggle-fest. The venue is in Montana, which is like us playing the Scottish Open in Ullapool.
The partners are NFL quarterback legends Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Brady is Super Bowl champion (yet again). Rodgers is currently refusing to play for the Green Bay Packers, the team he’s been with his entire pro career.
Will that even be mentioned? One wouldn’t bet on it, if Phil and Bryson’s attitude in Detroit last week is anything to go by. Phil got miffed the local paper brought up the old story of him losing $500,000 to gangster gamblers. No-one would have even noticed they’d published it if he hadn’t brought it up on Twitter.
DeChambeau ignores the media after caddie split
Source: Bryson's caddie, Tim Tucker, will not be on the bag for Bryson today.
Tim was present and caddying for Bryson in the practice rounds this week.
There will be more to this story.
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) July 1, 2021
Bryson refused to do any media at all in Detroit – despite the fact the name sponsor has a stake in him – after he split with caddie Tim Tucker on the eve of the tournament. Originally officially explained as “a break” and then “mutual” it quickly became clear it wasn’t and was terminal.
These are slightly awkward things, like Rodgers’ hold-out. In the artificial world of things like “The Match”, slightly awkward things can’t be addressed. Because, you know, a multi-millionaire might feel bad momentarily.
Sadly, there seem a large swathe of slavish admirers willing to completely ignore such entitled hypocrisy. Indeed, it seems we’re all okay with being outrageously lied to in general, so why should golf be any different?