Scotland will become the focus for the golfing world's attention over the next fortnight, the action teeing off this week on the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond with The Barclays Scottish Open.
A high-quality field is headlined by the six previous Champions at Loch Lomond, the international gathering of Thomas Björn, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tom Lehman, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood illustrating perfectly the global attraction of the £2.2 million tournament.
The majestic Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish layout holds special appeal in particular for Retief Goosen, who won the title in emphatic style last year. An opening 62, which would have equalled his own course record of 1997 had it not been for the preferred lies in operation, gave him the foundation for his wire-to-wire victory.
It was the second of the South African's three European Tour International Schedule victories in 2001, on his way to winning the Harry Vardon Trophy. Goosen, joint runner-up in last week’s Smurfit European Open, comes into this year's tournament, the first of a five year deal with Barclays Bank PLC, in similar fine form and on top of the Volvo Order of Merit.
Another fan of Loch Lomond is Thomas Björn, who was runner-up to Goosen last year and who won the first tournament on the course in 1996, the victory providing the springboard for him to become the first Danish golfer to play in The Ryder Cup Matches, at Valderrama in 1997.
Björn's victory not only boosted his personal image, it also raised the profile of golf as a whole in Denmark and gave the impetus for fellow professionals from the Scandinavian country to follow in his winning footsteps.
Steen Tinning started matters with his victory in the 2000 Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open before the double success in recent weeks with Anders Hansen (Volvo PGA Championship) and Søren Hansen (Murphy's Irish Open), both of whom are competing at Loch Lomond hoping to emulate Bjorn.