Henrik Stenson, the 2016 Open champion, has handed the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open a boost by confirming he’ll be playing in this summer’s Rolex Series event at Gullane.
The popular Swede didn’t play when the East Lothian venue hosted the same event for the first time in 2015, when American Rickie Fowler came out on top.
But he returned the following year at Castle Stuart before beating Phil Mickelson in a thrilling battle to get his hands on the Clarer Jug at Royal Troon a week later.
“It’s been a long time for me since I played at Gullane,” said Stenson, the world No 15. “I played the British Amateur back in the day, probably in 1998, at Muirfield and Gullane. I didn’t play when Rickie won in 2015, so it’s kind of fresh to me in a way. It’s a good track and I’m looking forward to coming back.”
It will be Stenson’s 11th appearance in the event, having made his debut at Loch Lomond in 2001 and producing his best performance when finishing third in 2013 at Castle Stuart.
“The times when I have played the Scottish Open in the week before The Open I feel like I’ve come in ready and prepared and that’s when I’ve had my best results,” he added.
“I did that in 2013 when I finished second to Phil at Muirfield, then I skipped it for a couple of years to try a different set up and that didn’t work out too well for me. I went back to the original plan in 2016 and we all know how that finished up.”
That was reference to Stenson joining Darren Clarke (2011), Ernie Els (2012), Mickelson (2013) and Rory McIlroy (2014) in winning golf’s oldest major the week after the Scottish Open.
“For me it’s always good to compete because it gets me into that competitive mode,” he said at the time. “I sometimes have a bit of a hard time going from practice mode to competition. “
Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello, the defending champion after his play-off victory over Englishman Callum Shinkwin at Dundonald Links last summer, is the only other player confirmed so far by the Scottish Open organisers .
However, Stenson is likely to be joined on Scotland’s Golf Coast on 12-15 July by Mickelson, as well as Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood, all of whom have indicated that the Scottish Open is set to be on their summer schedules this year.
“The Scottish crowds are very knowledgeable,” said 42-year-old Stenson, a member of the 2014 Ryder Cup- winning side at Gleneagles. “They appreciate good golf and even if the weather can be a little rough at times they always come out. The Scottish Open always has a big attendance and a really nice feel to it also.”
Stenson’s announcement was immediately welcomed by Martin Gilbert, the co-chief executive of Aberdeen Standard Investments. “Great news,” he wrote on Twitter.
Tickets for the event are available from just £15 at www.asiscottishopen.com