Thursday, 27 July, 2017

Big names threaten Noren's defence of Scottish Open

Zach Johnson an Open winner will be in the Midwest the week before he heads to Royal Birkdale Zach Johnson an Open winner will be in the Midwest the week before he heads to Royal Birkdale. Getty Images
Howard Terry | 15 July, 2017, 00:10

"Unfortunately I had to miss it a year ago with the schedule, and the Olympics being part of the summer over here - it just didn't allow me to play".

Rory is playing catch-up after an injury-hit season and this is his last chance to get his game sharp for next week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in England.

Reigning Open champion Stenson rebounded from a triple-bogey 7 on his first hole (No. 10) after driving left into thick rough and needing three hacks to get the ball out to shoot level par.

Swede Alex Noren will tee up this week on Dundonald Links looking to become the first player in the 45-year history of the Scottish Open to successfully defend the title.

"It's hard to sit up here and stand in front of a camera every single time and say to you guys 'it's close, ' because I sound a bit like a broken record after a few weeks, but really, it's not far away", McIlroy said.

"I know we didn't necessarily talk about the game out there but I know he's in a great spot with his personal life".

Speaking about his own first round, which sees him up to co-leader along with Callum Shinkwin, Andrew Dodt and Ian Poulter, Fowler said: "Thursday is all about getting off to a good start and I did a great job of that".

The latter, who is a two-time Challenge Tour victor, made seven birdies, one eagle and just two bogeys to sign for a magnificent seven-under-par 65, leaving the 28-year-old in prime position to break his duck on the European circuit. And as I keep saying it, I don't feel like my game is that far away, so to stay patient when you feel like that is sometimes quite hard.

Fox played his way into the field at Birkdale courtesy of his T4 result at last week's DDF Irish Open, his second consecutive top-10 in the rich Rolex Series of tournaments which have debuted this year.

"I've played links golf when I was a kid, as an amateur we played and I won the Amateur back in the day".

Fowler started the Sunday of the Masters and the U.S. Open in contention this year, only to falter in the final round, and he feels like he'll be in good shape to challenge for the British Open with a week's preparation in Scotland. "Links golf is probably my favorite".

"I also enjoy playing the week before the Majors just to get myself ready to go, tick off some boxes". That way there's less prep the week of a major.

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