Trio of hopefuls at Scottish Open hoping to land Carnoustie spots

Trevor Immelman of South Africa misses a birdie putt on the 18th during the second round.  Picture: Harry How/Getty Images
Trevor Immelman of South Africa misses a birdie putt on the 18th during the second round. Picture: Harry How/Getty Images
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Three players in contention for the Open Championship spots up for grabs in the Scottish Open this weekend are teed up for other duties at Carnoustie next week. Robert Rock, the halfway leader in the Aberdeen Standard Investments-sponsored event, will be doing some coaching work in Angus, while Trevor Immelman and Eddie Pepperell both have media work lined up. All three will be happy to change their plans if things work out in their favour tomorrow night.

Of the trio, Immelman is most likely to be sticking to Plan A. A decade after winning The Masters, he’s now ranked 1,380th in the world. A six-under-par 64 was more like it from the South African, but he’s not sure he can stay in the mix over the weekend.

“I’m probably a little better at holding the microphone than when I’m holding the golf club,” he said afterwards, referring to him having started to do some work for the Golf Channel. He’s due to be part of the station’s team at next week’s Open Championship but could be playing instead. Three spots are up for grabs here for non-exempt players who finish in the top ten and ties. Immelman is not getting too far ahead of himself as the 38-year-old believes his best years are in the past.

“We’re all our own worst critics eventually and that stems from, for the most part, we are all perfectionists and being a perfectionist,” he said. “It’s an interesting journey because for the first half of it when you’re acquiring your skill, it really drives you to become great.

“But, once you’ve acquired your skill and you’ve maybe reached a high level, from that point on it really starts hurting you because you start to be way too tough on yourself and, in a game like this where the margins are so tight, you know, all the little things that have to go right for you to play well. If you are too hard on yourself mentally, it can eat you alive.

“Ten years ago, the Masters. That’s a long time in sport. That’s why guys like Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Davis Love don’t get enough credit for hanging around for 30 years. That is just insanely good.”

Immelman, who lost to Craig Watson in the final of the Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s in 1997, cut his professional teeth on the European Tour. “I remember my roots fondly, so it’s nice to be back out in Scotland and playing and having a good round, one I’m very excited about. But my best golf is nowhere near what it would need to be to compete at the highest level these days.”

Rock held off both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. As two bogey-free efforts on a course where bounces are very unpredictable due to the ground being so firm show, the 41-year is still a handy player himself. He’s equally good at offering swing advice to others, though.

“I’m going to Carnoustie as a coach but, if I’m being honest, it means everything as a player to be in The Open,” he said. “I’ve just to keep concentrating as this tournament could be a means to an end for me.”

It’s the same story for compatriot Pepperell. “I’m actually going to be commentating with the BBC at Carnoustie for a couple of days if I don’t play,” revealed this year’s Qatar Masters winner – he finished joint-fourth here behind Rickie Fowler in 2015 – after carding a seven-under-par 63. “I’m going to be there in whichever capacity. Obviously I’d rather be playing but we’ll just wait and see.”