“It was in 2000 and I played through all the qualifiers – first at Renfrew then at Leven Links – and it was amazing,” recalled the Australian, pictured, of his initial experience of the game’s oldest major.
“I was a pro about four weeks at the time and I hit my nervous 4-iron off the first tee at St Andrews and off I went. I had about 90 yards to the pin and dead-fatted my lob wedge,” he added of how quickly he found himself being brought back down to earth.
“I recall it running straight into the burn, having probably played the wrong shot, so it was a quick learning curve for me at the Open and links golf.”
His first taste of that type of golf had come a few years earlier when he enjoyed two separate summer tours of courses in the sport’s cradle.
“I played Royal Aberdeen and then St Andrews, Carnoustie, Gleneagles,” he said. “We played a tournament at Loch Lomond, as well as Western Gailes, Turnberry, Troon and Prestwick.
“I instantly enjoyed the challenge of something I had never really seen before. Although we had courses by the ocean, they are not really true links courses like over here. I really enjoyed that right from the start and have tried to embrace it.”
Scott is making his 18th Open appearance, having recorded five top-ten finishes, including a second place in 2012 at Royal Lytham, where he had one hand on the Claret Jug only to lose out to Ernie Els.
“It took me a while as a pro to figure out I needed to do something different in preparation for the Open,” said Scott. “Just showing up on a Monday wasn’t enough. When I did figure that out, I started having some really good results and got close to winning.”
The 2013 Masters champion paid a visit to Birkdale en route to the Scottish Open and reckons a tougher test lies in store than when the event was last there in 2008, when Padraig Harrington made it back-to-back wins in the game’s oldest major.
“I found it a little longer and, though the rough is not too penal if you’re just off the fairway, they have got the fairways fairly tight. So if the wind blows, it’s going to be very tricky.
“I think sometimes you get lulled into a feeling that the course is quite easy, but I didn’t get that when I was there the other day,” he said.