Arguably the strongest field on the European Tour of 2021 takes to The Renaissance Club in North Berwick for this week’s Rolex Series abrdn Scottish Open. Here is all you need to know about the final tune-up for The Open Championship, including who and how to watch, Aussies in the field and course details.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Englishman Aaron Rai defeated his compatriot Tommy Fleetwood over extra holes after both reached 11-under-par 273 through four rounds at The Renaissance.
COURSE: Found in the golf-rich East Lothian, The Renaissance Club is the work of world-renowned architect Tom Doak and opened for play in 2008.
Doak and his team were given a pine forest to create a links layout from and cleared huge numbers of trees, whilst leaving some in place to create strategic play and unique visuals for a Scottish course in the same region as Muirfield.
This year marks the 7,293 yard par-71’s third as host, with scoring largely dependent on the wind and weather that Mother Nature dishes up throughout the week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
World No.1 Jon Rahm makes his first start since triumphing at Torrey Pines to claim his first major title and regain the top spot on the world rankings this week.
Rahm has been celebrating his significant achievement but will certainly have refocused before his trip back to Europe, where he has a history of winning Rolex Series events and a clear enjoyment of links golf.
Rahm is a two-time Irish Open winner, so golf in this part of the world clearly suits his game, however he has yet to put his best golf on display in The Open Championship, something he will surely be looking to change starting with some solid play this week.
The American contingent is amazingly strong this week, headlined by major winners Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa. But one of the more interesting to keep an eye on from the foreign raiders for the Scottish Open crown is Scottie Scheffler.
RIGHT: Aaron Rai poses with the trophy after defeating Tommy Fleeetwood in sudden death in 2020. PHOTO: Andrew Reddington/Getty Images.
Scheffler is yet to win on the PGA Tour and makes his first trip to Europe as a professional to compete in the game’s oldest major next week. However, his play over the previous 18 months suggests he is an interesting proposition around Tom Doak’s design.
Scheffler brings his best stuff in the majors, including five finishes inside the top-20 in his last five major championship starts, which suggests his game will be in good shape before his Open Championship debut next week.
The Texan also owns a game that should suit links golf perfectly. An impressive ball-striker, who has the ability to shape his shots and play well in tough conditions, it would be no surprise to see Scheffler in the mix over the weekend as he continues to learn the vagaries of playing the game in the way links golf dictates.
Given the success of Australians last week around the world, it would be foolish to leave an Aussie off this list. And the choice here is Min Woo Lee.
Lee was third best of the Aussies in Ireland last week behind winner Lucas Herbert and Jason Scrivener, but his share of 17th was a very respectable result.
Like Scheffler, Lee has a game well-suited to links golf and The Renaissance Club and while a win in such a stacked field would be a serious accomplishment for a player still early in his career, a high finish could get him one of the final spots in The Open, which would mark his major championship debut.
72-HOLE RECORD: South African Brandon Stone set the aggregate scoring record in 2018 when he took 260 strokes around Gullane. When the event first visited The Renaissance Club in 2019, Benjamin Hebert and eventual winner Bernd Wiesberger set the mark to par, both reaching 22-under.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Wayne Riley (1995), Peter O’Malley (1992), Craig Parry (1991) and Graham Marsh (1973).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Maverick Antcliff, Scott Hend, Lucas Herbert, Min Woo Lee, Wade Ormsby and Jason Scrivener.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9:30pm – 3:30am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9:30pm – 3:30am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 9pm – 2:30am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 2am)
*AEST, check local guides