21-Strong Scots Battalion Prepare to Storm The Castle
Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird, Scotland’s two top-ranked players, have been paired with three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson in the opening two rounds of this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, which starts at Castle Stuart tomorrow.
Mickelson was a late entry for the £2.5 million event and is sure to attract a huge gallery alongside Ryder Cup hopefuls Lawrie, the former Open champion, and US-based Laird.
Organisers have also handed Aberdonian Richie Ramsay a plum draw alongside Luke Donald, the world No 1 and defending champion, and three-time major winner Ernie Els.
They begin at 8.15am tomorrow from the 10th tee, with the Mickelson group beginning from the first at 1.15pm.
A powerful domestic contingent – in total 21 players – has assembled on the shores of the Moray Firth to back up the trio’s bid to emulate Colin Montgomerie, who was the last Scottish winner of the championship at Loch Lomond in 1999.
Stephen Gallacher, another leading Scot, plays in the company of former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari.
Victorious Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie tees off with South African Branden Grace and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, while Scott Jamieson, who tied for third last year to earn an Open place, is off in the company of ex-USPGA champion Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn, winner of last year’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Paisley’s Alastair Forsyth will have he European Ryder Cup captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, to chat to, as well as Australian Marcus Fraser.
The Highland golfing public also have the opportunity to watch a number of Scotland’s brightest emerging talents.
Those include tournament invitees James Byrne, David Law and Michael Stewart, who are being backed by Aberdeen Asset Management through the transition from the amateur ranks and are just embarking on their professional careers.
South African Amateur champion Brian Soutar and Jack McDonald, a semi-finalist in The Amateur Championship last month, also received invites as the leading two Scots on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.