Top-ranked Scots tee up with star draw Mickelson in opening rounds
STAR attraction Phil Mickelson has been paired with Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird, Scotland’s two top-ranked players, in the opening two rounds of this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Organisers of the £2.5 million event have also handed Richie Ramsay a tasty draw tomorrow and Friday by putting him in the same group as Luke Donald, the world No 1 and defending champion, and three-time major winner Ernie Els. That threesome are off at 8.15am in the first round, just after Stephen Gallacher, former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari.
On-form Scot David Drysdale is out at 8.35am along with Ross Fisher, another member of the winning European Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor in 2010, and American John Rollins. The morning groups also feature Padraig Harrington, another three-times major champion, with Marcel Siem, the newly-crowned French Open champion, and Paul Casey.
Lawrie, Laird and Mickelson are out in the afternoon – at 1.15pm – as is Colin Montgomerie, who is in the same group as South African Branden Grace, a three-times winner on the European Tour this season, and big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.
Scott Jamieson, who tied for third last year to earn an Open place, launches his bid to repeat that feat alongside former USPGA champion Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn, winner of last year’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Alastair Forsyth, another of the 21-strong home contingent, will have European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal for company as well as Australian Marcus Fraser.
South African Oosthuizen saw the Castle Stuart course for the first time yesterday and instantly relished the challenge of the £2.5 million event.
He missed out 12 months ago when the tournament was held at the Inverness venue for the first time but decided to add it to his schedule this year in preparation for next week’s Claret Jug bid at Lytham.
Oosthuizen, who lost a play-off for the The Masters in April to Bubba Watson, said: “Scotland is a great place for golf. It’s a special place to be and, when you walk on these links golf courses, it’s just something really special.
“It’s nice to be on a golf course that’s a bit different, a lot of shot-making and just the way it was supposed to be from the start.”
It rained most of yesterday, with more forecast for today but Ooosthuizen won’t mind if its either wet, windy or even both.
“If the weather stays this way, it will be difficult,” he added. “But links golf should be harsh weather. It should be rainy. It should be windy.”
Oosthuizen is playing his first event on European soil this season and is looking to regain the form which saw him win twice earlier in the year – the Africa Open and the Maybank Malaysian Open.
“I’ve been up and down the last two-and-a-half months, after Malaysia and I’ve just been working on a few things again,” he said. “It’s slowly getting there. I worked with Pete [Cowen] on Saturday and found something and I’ve started hitting it nicely. I need to play well this week to just get confidence a bit up for next week.”
Ramsay, a former South African Open champion, is also heading for Lytham, having earned his place in the field after finishing in the top 30 on last year’s Race to Dubai. The 29-year-old finished second in the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea earlier in the season and is hoping he can bounce straight back from a missed cut in last week’s French Open.
“It’s a massive couple of weeks for me,” said the Aberdonian. “I remember going to the Scottish Open as a kid at Gleneagles and now to be playing in it is fantastic. But I want to do well in it – I don’t just want to be making up the numbers. The margins are small in this game and I’m hoping this week and next week are the two where they work out for me.
“I’ve got an eye on trying to get into the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island – that would be a nice reward for all the people who have helped me over in the States. It would be nice for them to come and watch me there.
“There’s also a few guys I went to school with coming up here this week and you want to try and show off a bit and show people that this is what I can do.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 2 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West