Henrik Stenson and Tommy Fleetwood have pulled out of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane to protect their chances of success in the Open Championship at Carnoustie next week.
The 2016 Open champion, who played at Castle Stuart the week before his Royal Troon triumph and again at Dundonald last year, is nursing an elbow injury while last year’s European No 1 Fleetwood wants to rest up after illness and a heavy schedule of events in recent weeks.
Stenson hasn’t played since the US Open last month, where he finished in a tie for sixth. “Good luck to everyone at Gullane & have great week. Hoping to be fit for Carnoustie” he announced on Twitter.
Fleetwood suffered a virus when defending the French Open title two weeks ago which curtailed his practice time, and has decided after a week off to recover his full health that he is better preparing for Carnoustie – where he is the course record holder – at home.
“I wanted to play the Scottish, because it’s a great tournament on a course I really like; my result there a few years back actually took me to 47th in the world which was the highest I’d been at that point,” Fleetwood told the Daily Telegraph. “But I feel this is best for me.”
Fleetwood, second behind Brooks Koepka in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills, was a top 10 finisher the previous occasion the Scottish Open was played at Gullane, in 2015.
The late withdrawls have eased the path of Drumoig rookie professional Connor Syme into the Scottish Open. The 22-year-old was fifth reserve for the championship at the start of the weekend but has comfortably made the field.
Yesterday the R&A has revealed that the Open prize fund will increase by almost $250,000 (£187,000) to $10.5m, the champion golfer will pick up a record £1.89 million. Prizemoney at the oldest major still trails US Open and Masters by half a million.