The first two editions of the Scottish Open were in 1935 and 1936 but the third didn't occur until 1972 and two years later the tournament disappeared again. It's been an ever-present on the DP World Tour since 1986 though, and in addition to being one of the four Rolex Series events the Scottish Open is now co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour.
The new link up has seen the field strength increase significantly and the favourite for next week's Open, Rory McIlroy, is the only player in the top-15 of the Official World Rankings that isn't teeing it up here this week.
The Scottish Open has preceded the Open Championship for many years and since 2011 it's been staged on a traditional links set-up to allow players to acclimatise to links golf prior to the Open.
The Renaissance Club, Dirleton, North Berwick
Par 70, 7,237 yards
Stroke Average in 2021 - 69.86 when a par 71 at 7,293 yards
Situated next door to Muirfield and just two miles from the 2018 venue, Gullane, the Tom Doak designed Renaissance Club is hosting the Scottish Open for a fourth year in-a-row.
Having only opened as recently as 2008, changes were made to the course just five years later when a land swap with the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers enabled three new holes to be constructed - connecting the course to the coastline and the par four 13th hole (the fourth hole in 2018), along the edge of the cliffs and high above the Firth of Forth, is spectacular (as you'll see in the clip below).
The club's website states: "Very little earth was moved in the construction of the course. The design embraced the original dunes landscape, typical of true links golf. Tom Doak and his team incorporated these contours into the course while leaving certain significant trees to enhance the beauty and challenges of play. The course has a truly distinctive style; windswept and open dunes land with trees coming into play on a truly coastal links course in Scotland."
The Renaissance Club was the venue for the 54-hole Scottish Senior Open in 2017, won by Paul Broadhurst in 13-under-par, and it first staged this event in 2019 when Bernd Wiesberger eventually saw off Benjamin Herbert after a protracted playoff. Both men reached 22-under-par but in cooler, windier conditions, and following a lengthening of the course by around 200 yards after the 2019 edition, the 2020 playoff protagonists reached only 11-under-par.
For the third year in-a-row, the tournament went to extra time last year when Min Woo Lee, Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Detry all shot 18-under-par for the week.
Prior to 2020 renewal, the fairways were narrowed in places and there was a change to the layout with holes 1-7 being played as holes 10-16.
The seventh hole was a 561 yard par five last year but this year it plays as a par four measuring 505 yards.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 08:00 on Thursday
Last Seven Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2021 - Min Woo Lee -18 330.0329/1 (playoff)
2020 - Aaron Rai -11 110.0109/1 (playoff)
2019 - Bernd Wiesberger -22 46.045/1 (playoff)
2018 - Brandon Stone -20 1000.0
2017 - Rafa Cabrera-Bello -13 65.064/1 (playoff)
2016 - Alex Noren -14 55.054/1
2015 - Rickie Fowler -12 24.023/1
What Will it Take to Win the Scottish Open?
As always with a links tournament, previous links form is a huge plus, so the usual rules apply: look at form at this event over the last ten years, the 2009, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 editions of the Irish Open, the 2019 British Masters from Hillside Links, the Open Championship, and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for clues. Links golf is unique and those events have all been staged on links courses.
Stats-wise, putting has been key. Both the playoff protagonists in 2019 putted really well, ranking third and fifth for Putting Average. The 2019 winner, Rai, only ranked 29th for Putting Average, but he was the only player in the top-five to rank outside the top-20 for PA. Last year's winner Lee ranked third for PA. Fitzpatrick, who was beaten in the playoff, ranked first for Strokes Gained Putting.
Potential Draw Bias
Looking at the latest forecasts, a late start on day one may be very slightly beneficial.
Wednesday looks very windy but it will die down almost completely during Thursday before picking up again fractionally as Friday progresses.
If the forecast pans out as predicted, those who start late on Thursday and early on Friday should enjoy the easiest conditions, although the bias looks minimal at this stage.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Colin Montgomerie won this back in 1999 but he's the last Scot to take the title and we've seen winners from all corners of the globe since. Wiesberger was the first Austrian to take the title in 2019 and we've seen winners representing as many as 13 different nationalities this century. With as many as four separate winners (Ernie Els (twice), Retief Goosen, Tim Clark and Brandon Stone) the South Africans have fared the best this century and Erik Van Rooyen looked like making it five three years ago when he traded at a low of 2.6813/8 during round four.
The English have the next-best record. They've won three of the last 11 renewals and the first three in 2020 (Rai, Fleetwood, and Robert Rock) were all English.
Keep a close eye on the Open Championship market
Given that seven of the last 11 Open winners have warmed up for the tournament in this event, anyone who plays well here will shorten up dramatically for next week's major.
If you fancy someone at St Andrews who's playing here this week, make sure you're keeping an eye on how they're doing because their price will collapse if they perform well.
The 2016 Open winner, Henrik Stenson, was matched at 40.039/1 to win the Open while this event was in progress and he went off at around 25.024/1. The runner-up to Stenson, Phil Mickelson, was matched at 60.059/1 during the Scottish Open, before going off at 40.039/1 at Royal Troon, and those two had history.
In 2013, Mickelson was matched at 38.037/1 to win the Open before the Scottish Open started but he was down to 22.021/1 after winning this event and Stenson, who stumbled late on in that renewal, saw his odds cut from 70.069/1 to 50.049/1 during this event before going on to finish runner-up to Lefty at Muirfield.
Fowler halved in price for the Open Championship when he won the Scottish seven years ago.
Shane Lowry didn't play in this event three years ago but he did warm up for the Open by playing on a links track, finishing tied for 62nd in the Irish Open at Lahinch two weeks before his victory at Portrush, Collin Morikawa won the Open Championship at Royal St Georges after finishing 71st here.
A great event for outsiders
Rolex Series events tend to go to high-class, well-fancied players but this tournament is something of an anomaly and it's been a super event for outsiders of late with three of the last four winners going off at a triple-figure price.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2021 - Min Woo Lee T5 - trailing by three 60.059/1
2020 - Aaron Rai T10 - trailing by five 95.094/1
2019 - Bernd Wiesberger led by two strokes 1.991/1
2018 - Brandon Stone T11 - trailing by three 150.0149/1
2017 - Rafa Cabrera-Bello - trailing by four 34.033/1
2016 - Alex Noren led by two strokes 2.9215/8
2015 - Rickie Fowler - trailing by three 5.49/2
Being up with the pace is often the place to be at links venues. Unless there's significant rain, the courses tend to get faster and firmer as the week wares on but that hasn't always been the case in this event. We've seen four of the last five winners come from off the pace and it should really have been five from five...
Although only three off the lead with a round to go, Lee was a juicy 60.059/1 chance 12 months ago, having been matched at 1000.0 in-running earlier in the week and that was close to the lead compared to others.
Rai trailed by eight after shooting 70 on day one, he was matched for a few pounds at 1000.0 in-running on Saturday, and he still trailed by five with a round to go.
Trading at around 95.094/1 before round four, Rai hit 200.0199/1 when he fell even further back with a bogey at the second hole but the dropped shot galvanised him into action and five birdies in his next six put him bang in-the-mix. He went on to win in extra-time from the wrong side of the draw, one week after giving up a golden chance to win the Irish Open.
Wiesberger trailed by four in a tie for 29th after round one in 2019 but he was tied for the lead at halfway after a 61 in round two and he was two clear with a round to go but it was very nearly a different story.
Benjamin Hebert traded at a low of 1.021/50 in extra time before losing the playoff to Wiesberger and he'd trailed by six at halfway and by seven through 54 holes!
The two previous Scottish Open winners, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Brandon Stone had both been seven adrift at halfway, Rickie Fowler trailed by five strokes seven years ago at the midway point and both Mickelson (2013) and Jeev Milkha Singh (2012) trailed by four through 36 holes so a fast start is far from imperative.
In his first start after winning the US Open, world number three Jon Rahm was matched at just 1.4640/85 after 10 holes of round two last year before playing the last eight holes in one-over-par.
He went into the weekend tied for the lead with Thomas Detry and Jack Senior, trading at around 6/4, but he finished only seventh as putt after putt missed.
He's a two-time winner of the Irish Open on a links layout, he clearly loves this track, and he's a worthy favourite.
Like Rahm and many others in the field here, the second favourite, world number one, Scottie Scheffler, is currently in action in the JP McManus pro-am, where he showed us yesterday that golf is hard, even for the very best on the planet.
Scheffler finished 12th here 12 months ago on debut before finishing eighth in his first Open Championship the following year, suggesting he can certainly play links golf but we have the same issues with Scottie that we have with all the fancied runners.
This has been an event for outsiders of late and how hard will the favourites be trying to win this event when they've got the 150th edition of the biggest event of them all looming large next week?
Collin Morikawa finished only 71st last year before winning at Royal St Georges so a week of merely honing your links game is clearly beneficial but a good week here wouldn't put me off anyone at St Andrews. As Mickelson showed nine years ago, it's perfectly possible to win both.
I considered backing both the bang-in-form Ryan Fox, and the course specialist, Lucas Herbert, but in a field this deep, they really don't represent value so I'm going to leave the win market alone for now.
This has been a great event for outsiders so I'll have no problem picking out a few out for the Find Me a 100 Winner column tomorrow and my only wager so far is in the top-20 market.
Jack Senior went into last week's final round in Ireland in a tie for second place but a miserable 79 in round four saw him finish the week tied for 36th and 14 strokes adrift of his playing partner, the eventual winner, Adrian Meronk.
Senior led this event 12 months ago after rounds one and two before finishing 10th so he's clearly not one to rely on in the win markets but given his somewhat hidden course and current form, the 11/1 with the Sportsbook about him finishing inside the top-20 looks worth chancing.
Jack Senior Top-20 Finish @ 11/1 (Sportsbook)
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