Ernie Els of South Africa, the only double winner of The Barclays Scottish Open since Loch Lomond Golf Club became the host venue, embarks on a mission to defend his title and complete a hat-trick of victories at one of The European Tour’s most picturesque locations this week.
Els, who won in 2000 and followed that up with a five stroke success over Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke and Phillip Price of Wales 12 months ago, is one of 10 Major Champions in a field brimming with quality on the banks of the Loch, including 2004 Masters Tournament winner, Phil Mickelson of the United States.
Mickelson returns to Loch Lomond, where he finished tied 35th in 2003, as proud possessor of the famous Green Jacket in his locker after one of the year’s most gripping finishes when he edged out Els at Augusta National, both men producing some exquisite golf over the closing stages.
In addition to Els and Mickelson – currently rated second and fourth respectively on the Official World Golf Ranking – other Major winners chasing the first prize of £366,660 are Mark Calcavecchia, reigning Open Champion, Ben Curtis, who defends his title at Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire next week, Paul Lawrie, Tom Lehman, Sandy Lyle, José Maria Olazábal, Ian Woosnam and Loch Lomond co-designer, Weiskopf.
Lehman, the 1996 Open Champion, is one of seven past champions at Loch Lomond who will enjoy a nostalgic amble alongside the Loch and the hills, the others being Thomas Bjőrn, Els, Goosen, Colin Montgomerie, Eduardo Romero and Lee Westwood.
Weiskopf, whose original vision has now matured into one of the world’s most impressive inland courses, makes a welcome playing return to The Barclays Scottish Open, even though he is now 61 years old and a member of the US Champions Tour.