Retief using Scotland to sharpen up ahead of Open

The Barclays Scottish Open this week gives Retief Goosen a chance to see whether his game has clicked into shape this year ahead of next week’s Open Championship.

The two-time US Open champion finished third in the BMW International Open at the end of last month in Germany, his best result in a year that has been somewhat frustrating.

But that finish signalled the quiet 42-year-old’s return to the kind of level we became accustomed to back in 2010 when he did everything except win in a remarkable season on the US PGA Tour that had 10 top finishes in it.

His return has been presaged by a solid US Open – his last round of 68 was particularly encouraging as he finished in a share of 23rd. He also finished in 18th in the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth three weeks ahead of the US Open.

Goosen is one of seven South Africans playing at Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness this week, but only three of the others will be going on to play the Open: Thomas Aiken, George Coetzee and Ernie Els.

And with the Scottish Open moving onto a links course this year for the first time since 1996 from Loch Lomond, where the event was staged for 15 years, players are going to be able to take advantage of a week’s play on conditions somewhat similar to those they will encounter at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent next week.

Goosen finished sixth in the Open last year behind Louis Oosthuizen, and fine-tuning a game that has come back to him recently on a links course at the Scottish Open makes a lot of sense as he goes in search of an eighth top 10 in the Open – and perhaps a first victory.

The other South Africans playing in Scotland are James Kingston, Hennie Otto and Keith Horne.

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