WORLD No 3 Henrik Stenson is almost certain to join Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy in a star-studded line-up for this year’s Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen.
Englishman Luke Donald, the 2011 winner, also hinted today that he’s likely to make a return to the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event in July after missing the last of its three years at Castle Stuart.
“Yeah, I think so,” replied Stenson, winner of both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai at the end of last season, to being asked by scotsman.com if he planned to be joining defending champion Mickelson in the Granite City.
“I haven’t written it in stone yet, but most likely it will be a similar approach to the one last year by trying to go and check out Royal Liverpool (this year’s Open venue) and then play the Scottish Open.
“That’s kind of the plan just now. I don’t like to make promises that I’m not going to fulfil. So I’m not going to say 100 per cent but most likely it’s looking to be the same set up.”
Stenson led by two shots heading into the final round at Castle Stuart last July but closed with a 73 to finish two adrift of Mickelson, who beat South African Branden Grace in a play-off.
The Swede then finished runner-to Mickelson a week later in The Open at Muirfield and never looked back, landing a $10 million bonanza for his efforts on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Last year’s Scottish Open was a very important part for playing well at the Open Championship,” he added. “It was the ideal preparation for that.
“The way I look at preparing for The Open is that you either go and play and practise on a links course somewhere else or at The Open venue a little bit earlier, or you play a tournament on a links course the week before. “You make your choice depending on your schedule leading up to it. I like Scotland and how I played at Castle Stuart last year very important.
“I know nothing about Royal Aberdeen, so I’ll be happy to take a look later on in the season.”
Stenson, who picked up two prizes at the Swedish Sports Awards earlier in the week, has virtually guaranteed his place for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles on the back of his brilliant form over the past six months.
His last appearance on the Perthshire course was for the 2004 Diageo Championship but, rather than try and fit in a visit during the Scottish Open, he intends getting there early in September.
“It’s been quite a few years since I played the Gleneagles tournament but, rather than making a trip while I’m in Scotland, a more likely scenario is that I will go a little bit earlier from America to get rid of jetlag and play there.
“If I’ve got both Scottish Open and The Open to look after in the summer, it might be too much to try and put that on there, too.”
Donald, the inaugural winner at Castle Stuart, also revealed in the build up to the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship starting tomorrow that Royal Aberdeen was likely to be on his 2014 schedule.
“Other than the US Open, there’s a good chance I’ll play the week before each of the majors this year,” said the Ryder Cup player.
“I’ve tried different things throughout my career, but this year I’ve decided that playing the week before is a good way to go.”