He’s won the Scottish Open twice, and, while he’d like to win any tournament he plays, it’s a fair bet Ernie Els will be happy with nothing more than solid play this week at Castle Stuart Golf Links.
After his victory in the BMW International Open in Germany last month, Els originally appeared set to take three weeks off tournament golf ahead of his defence of the Open Championship, but he made the decision to play in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open as it became clear his game is on an upward curve.
Els took the 2012 Open Championship by virtue of his great final round as much as by virtue of Adam Scott’s implosion, but a fourth place in the US Open and his victory in Munich have revealed a depth to his game and a maturity to his approach that make him a contender once again as the Open returns to Muirfield, the scene of his 2002 play-off triumph.
“Playing the Scottish Open is not only the perfect preparation for the Open, it’s also a tremendous tournament in its own right,” said Els. “Playing links golf in Scotland is such a fantastic experience, especially on a beautiful course like Castle Stuart.
“I have very fond memories of my two wins in the Scottish Open, and if I can win it a third time, it would be the perfect platform for my defence of the Open. The Scottish galleries are very knowledgeable; they really know their golf, so if we can get some decent weather we should be in for another great week.”
Els competed at Castle Stuart the week before his triumph at Royal Lytham and St Annes, and the 43-year-old is hopeful the same routine will aid his quest to become the first man since Ireland’s Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win back-to-back Open Championships.