Top players prepare at Scottish Open

With just a week remaining before the Open Championship further down Scotland's west coast, the Barclays Scottish Open at the Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish designed Loch Lomond takes pride of place in European and indeed world golf this week.

The Scottish Open has played an increasing role in preparation for the Open Championship in recent years. Initially thought of as an unlikely lead-in venue for the typical links courses used for Open Championships, more and more internationals are using the event as their final warm up tournament. It is perhaps as much an exercise in acclimatisation as it is in preparing a game for the rigours of Open Championship golf but this week's field tells the story of the event's increasing popularity.

Interestingly, however, no player has won the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and then gone on to win the Open Championship the following week so it whether the pattern can be altered this season remains to be seen.

One place will be available from this event for next week's Open Championship, that going to the leading player inside the top 5 but not otherwise exempt.

While only one player from the world top ten, Geoff Ogilvy, is present there is a depth about this field that promises a fantastic contest. Many, more especially Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, are in fine form and while neither has won this event both are on the verge of their first victories anywhere in more than 18 months.

Graeme McDowell is the defending champion and while he missed the cut last week in France he played well in his brief campaign in the US. His last round of 63 at the St Jude Classic came just before a solid tournament at the US Open where he finished 17th.

It could never be said that Tim Clark wins more than his share tournaments but this is an event he has won previously and the current Australian Open Champion arrives at Loch Lomond after several good tournament in the US including what was a near miss at the Crown Plaza.

Rory McIlroy is such an extraordinary talent that he must be a consideration. For much of this season he has played extremely well and a 19th place finish in the event last year suggests that he could make the step up this year.

Richard Green was a very impressive third last year and has been playing very well in recent weeks. Green has been inside the top ten in his last three starts this season and could well be on the verge of his third European Tour victory.

Other Australasians in the field include Robert Allenby, Adam Scott, Rod Pampling, Stuart Appleby, Marcus Fraser, Brett Rumford, Scot Strange, Peter O'Malley, Mark Brown, Michael Campbell and Terry Pilkadaris.

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