Open Championship - Tee Times.
Padraig will tee off on Thursday at 1.21pm local time with Matt Kuchar and Bryden MacPherson. Fridays second round tee time is early at 8.20am.
The Barclays Scottish Open - Review
The European Tour’s first visit to Castle Stuart for the Barclays Scottish Open was an interesting one. I don’t think there was a player in the field that didn’t like the course and across the board everyone thought it was a great warm-up for The Open. However the weather problems that we had were not ideal. Unusually for this part of the world it was thunder and lightning that was the initial problem and then heavy rain overnight on Friday caused some landslides, which took a while to clear. As a result of all of this the tournament was reduced to 54 holes. However, in the end it all worked out fine - the weather on Sunday was good, there were no more delays and the event produced a great winner. Most people were happy with the decision to cut the tournament to 54 holes; personally I would have preferred to play 72 but there was nothing I could do about it.
For probably the first time this year I got the good side of the draw in terms of the delays; I was out early on Friday and got finished before any of the delays. This meant that I ended up having Saturday totally off. So far this year I have got caught a few times on the wrong side of delays; in fact in my last tournament I had to get up every morning pre-5am due to rain delays. So to have a day off felt good and I took it very easy all day. I watched four movies and did a small bit of practice late on Friday evening.
I finished in a tie for 14th, but it really should have been much better. I played very nicely all week but just wasn’t able to hole enough putts to move forward. I shot rounds of 3 under, 5 under and 4 under and in all of them I left a lot of shots on the course; particularly my final round. I gave myself chances for birdies on most of my holes but just couldn’t get the ball in the hole. It was quite frustrating, as I knew that a couple of more birdies would make a big difference to my finishing position.
In terms of the tournament I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to play four rounds, especially as the field was so bunched. I would have liked to have played 72 holes to try and move myself up the leader board. However, in terms of my Open preparation it was very good - I got to play a tournament on a links course and also managed to get some good rest.
I have to say that I really liked the course and look forward to coming back next year. It is a great layout with plenty of birdie holes and lots of different shots to be hit. It played relatively easy and so the scoring was good, but on top of this we didn’t get much wind. I am sure when we come back next year it will play a bit harder. It really was a fun course to play as there were so many holes that were reachable and the then the holes that were playing into the wind weren’t too tough as the fairways were hard and fast. The great thing about this course was the shots around the green; there were so many tough chips if you missed greens. It was great preparation for next week as there will be a lot of tough shots from around the greens at Royal St. George's.
I am very happy with how I played; it felt good getting back to playing links golf. I hit the ball very well but just didn’t putt well enough to contend the tournament. I know that there is nothing wrong with my putting it is merely a case of trusting myself and trying not to worry about it. A simple case of trying too hard! Overall though I am very happy that I played as it was a great warm up for the Open and it got me back into the links frame of mind which is key. It means that when I get to Sandwich I won’t have to spend the first couple of days getting used to how far the ball goes in the sea air.
The Barclays Scottish Open - Preview
I am playing in the Barclays Scottish Open for the first time in nearly ten years - I always said that I would play it again if it were played on a Links course. I always liked Loch Lomond but I just never felt that it was good preparation for the Open Championship. However, now that it is being held on a links course it is perfect preparation for next week. When I won my two Opens I played the Irish PGA at the European Club the week before and I know that it played a huge part in me winning. I was off last week and managed to get a game in Waterville to get me into the links frame of mind. The weather was great, just a little wind, which was nice, and the course was in great condition.
We are playing on a new golf course, Castle Stuart, in Inverness this week. It is very similar to Kingsbarns, which we play in the Dunhill Links, as they are both co-designed by Mark Parsinen Kingsbarns (with Kyle Phillips) is a great layout and Castle Stewart (with Gil Hanse) is no different; in fact it is probably slightly better. It is a hard thing to design a new links course as the existing ones are generally considered great courses, in a large part due to the fact that they are so old. It is very tough to design a new one that can even come close to being compared to the great links courses, but this one really is a great course. I would have to put it down as one of the best courses of the year. I had heard a lot about the course before I came here and I must admit I was a little skeptical until I played it on Tuesday. I played thirteen holes and there wasn’t one bad hole in them.
Seeing as it is a new course I wanted to play it on Tuesday as well as the pro-am on Wednesday. As well as wanting to see the course I wanted to get as many rounds in on links courses as possible. It doesn’t matter how many times you have played it growing up, if you haven’t been playing links golf for a while it takes a bit of time to get used to how the ball reacts and how far it travels. On Tuesday I played thirteen holes and then on Wednesday I played the pro-am. Tuesday was a nice day with a little wind and Wednesday was wet, but with similar amount of wind. It was amazing how much longer the course played on Wednesday because of the rain. It was great fun getting back playing links golf again; the fact that it is not always fair is great. There are so many different ways of playing each hole and each hole can play so different depending on where the wind is coming from.
The course is fantastic; really a great lay out with plenty of birdie holes as well as bogey holes. Like Kingsbarns the course is designed so that no matter what direction the wind is blowing there are birdie holes and bogey holes - some holes are birdie holes one day and then a wind change turns it into a tough par. If we get a day without much wind then there is the chance of seeing some very low scores but that is fine as the wind makes every links course. This week there are reachable par fives and driveable par fours; it is exactly what we need before the Open. The fairways are very generous and the rough is quite light. Barclays have set up a great course this week - they know that none of us want to be beaten up before next week; it is set up very fair and with birdies in mind.
I am looking forward to playing, as it has been quite a while since I played a tournament on a links course. It is a form of golf that I really enjoy and always look forward to. I am feeling good about my game and as much as I am here to prepare for the Open, I am here to win this week.