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Scottish Open Preview

Phil Mickelson again takes the high road to Scotland en route to the Open at Muirfield next week and is 18/1 favourite with Coral to win his ‘prep’, the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, up near Inverness

The American never tires of singing the praises of both Scotland and our Open venues, but in truth hasn’t set the heather alight anywhere on these shores as regularly as one would have expected from a multiple Major winner back home.

There has, however, been a pattern of Scottish Open winners also capturing Majors over the years, from three-times winner Ian Woosnam and Tom Lehman through dual scorer Ernie Els (20/1 to win again this week) to Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer. The winners’ list this millennium also includes Frenchmen Thomas Levet and Gregory Harvret, who also went very close to winning one of golf’s ‘Grand Slams’.

But although punters will have one eye on Muirfield next week, this is also a tournament well worth winning for its own sake and with several of the world’s best sitting it out, it offers a great opportunity for others to both pick up a large pay cheque and go into next week’s main event full of confidence.

One man who needs to be successful this weekend to even get the chance of triumphing again next week is Paul Casey (25/1 with Coral), who bounced back to his impressive best to win the Irish Open a fortnight ago, but who needs to do it all again to qualify for Muirfield.

Casey was the world’s number 3 as recently as 2009 and was the only man to give Louis Oosthuizen any sort of run for his money in the Open at St Andrews the following year. But injuries and personal problems led to a plummet down the rankings to outside the top 150 and it was an incalculable morale boost for the 35-year-old when he sank the eagle putt to secure the Irish Open title at Carton House.

Henrik Stenson (20/1) is another very good player coming back into top form and what price a Scottish golfer being sufficiently inspired by Andy Murray’s exploits to walk off with the substantial and prestigious first prize?

Paul Lawrie and American-based Martin Laird (both 50/1) have the best chance, according to Coral, but Marc Warren (also 50s) finished third last year after leading with four holes to go and there will be a spring in the step of Stephen Gallagher (40/1), who learned the other day that he would be playing at Muirfield as first reserve when John Daly pulled out with injury.

Yorkshireman Simon Dyson, another who has been showing clear signs of a revival recently, also makes each way appeal at 66/1.

Written by Jon Freeman