Rory McIlroy among stars in Scotland to prepare for the Open

Leona Maguire one of top players in London to prepare for Evian Championship

The professional circuits make a dramatic transatlantic change of direction this week. The Genesis Scottish Open, benefiting from its status as a co-sanctioned event on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, has headliners in world number one Scottie Scheffler and number three Rory McIlroy, while the LET’s Aramco series of tournaments in London also has a fair sprinkling of star names, among them Leona Maguire.

The respective tournaments also serve as preparation for upcoming Major championships, most immediately for the men with the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club just over a week away.

The appeal of playing links golf in advance of Hoylake is evident from the quality of the field assembled for the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, with McIlroy, who skipped the event last year before his near-miss at the Open in St Andrews, among those adding the tournament to the scheduling this time around.

McIlroy has not played since last month’s Travelers Championship but arrives on Scotland’s east coast with a streak of five top-10s on the PGA Tour as he fine-tunes before his return to Hoylake, where he won his Claret Jug in 2014.


Shane Lowry also returns to competitive action after a two-week break and, aside from getting a scorecard on links terrain in Scotland, he needs to garner more FedEx Cup points as the endgame to the season’s big money playoffs draws ever nearer.

Lowry is 77th in the FedEx Cup standings and needs to break into the leading 70 after the Wyndham Championship by August 6th. Basically, the next two weeks of links competition will determine whether Lowry will be in the playoffs.

Séamus Power, who is 26th in the FedEx Cup standings primarily due to strong early-season form that included a win in Bermuda, showed signs of a return to form with a tied-13th finish behind Sepp Straka in the John Deere Classic at the weekend.

Pádraig Harrington is also playing in the Scottish Open, sticking with his old routine of getting a competitive links outing in the run-up to the Open, while Tom McKibbin’s win in the European Open last month has improved his tour card status and earned him a place in the field.

McKibbin hasn’t yet earned a place in Hoylake but gets a last chance to book his ticket with three places available in Scotland to those not yet qualified.

Leona Maguire, meanwhile, has crossed eight time zones in travelling back from the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach – where her tied-31st place finish earned her $67,595 and consolidated her LPGA Tour order of merit position of sixth – to be one of the headline acts at the Ladies European Tour Aramco tournament at the Centurion Club in London.

“Overall, it was a really tough test and, for the most part, I played pretty well,” said Maguire of her performance in the season’s third Major, where she was in contention heading into the weekend before slipping back.

Maguire’s next appearance in a Major will be at the Evian Championship in France in a fortnight.

Olivia Mehaffey has shown a welcome return to form in recent weeks, highlighted by a tied-third place finish in the Finnish Open two weeks ago, and she has been given a sponsor’s invitation into the Aramco Series tournament this week.

On the LPGA Tour, Lauren Walsh’s debut as a professional will take place in the Dana Open in Sylvania, Ohio, this week. The Castlewarden golfer – who has recently graduated from Wake Forest University, where she was part of the NCAA Division One winning team – has been given an invitation to the event where Stephanie Meadow is also playing.

Meanwhile, a quartet of Irish players are competing in the Euram Bank Open in Austria on the Challenge Tour: Conor Purcell, Conor O’Rourke, Paul Murphy and Cormac Sharvin.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times