It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
Ian Poulter prepared to be put through his paces before Ryder Cup
Through the battering winds of Scotland the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is getting underway today, with several big-name players toughening it out on the field to prove their worth before the cluster of huge events rolls around.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson, along with two-time major winner Rory McIlroy, former US Open champion Justin Rose and Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter have all taken up the challenging Scottish course and the combination of wind and rain which accompany it. And you can be sure that Ian Poulter’s memorable description of the course in which he said “'Lassie wouldn't find that if it was wrapped in bacon” during his difficulties finding the ball in heavy rough after Wednesday’s pro-am will be ringing in the ears of a few players.
However, scratch a little deeper and beneath the flippant comments, Poulter admits that there’s danger of being mentally exhausted by the end of the week if such treacherous conditions prevail on the North Sea Coast.
“I can definitely see it because just playing the pro-am I got off the course feeling beaten up by the wind,” said Poulter, who was joint third at Muirfield last year.
”It is going to be a stern test this week with the weather and, it seems, having three different winds on this golf course. That will drain you mentally I think; we're not going to play one course, it looks like we are going to play three,” he told the Daily Mail. “It will be challenging from that respect and it will be difficult scoring around this golf course. It's not easy. It might even be more difficult this week than next week.”
But Poulter knows he has to play this tournament if there’s any hope of making it into the Ryder Cup team.
The world no.24 has stated already that he isn’t content with simply being chosen as a wildcard entry into Team Europe, although a topsy-turvy run of form has perhaps taken that decision out of the Englishman’s hands.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t played in the Scottish Open since 2009, said of the course and upcoming events: “I think it will be good for some of the guys, because it's definitely not a gentle introduction to links golf this year.
“I missed out on Castle Stuart (the venue from 2011-2013) the last few years because I didn't really feel like it provided a true links test. That's why I took the week off before the Open the last few years and played links golf at home in Northern Ireland or went and prepared at whatever course the Open was at that year.
“But now that the Scottish Open is here at Royal Aberdeen and it's a true links test, I think a lot of guys have come to the realisation that to play competitive golf and to play it on a course like this, could really benefit you going into next week.”