Friday, 19 March 2010

The United Kingdom becomes the focal point of world golf over the next two weeks, and although The Open Championship at Hoylake is undeniably the main course, Loch Lomond Golf Club will serve up a deliciously tasty appetiser this week in the form of The Barclays Scottish Open.


No fewer than eight of the top 20 on the Official World Golf Ranking will assemble on the Bonnie, Bonnie Banks to contest the £2.4 million tournament. For one player, it will afford a wonderful opportunity to win a prestigious title and at the same time confirm that individual’s wellbeing for the challenge at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.


Leading the race to become the 11th champion since the event took up residence at Loch Lomond are two South Africans and former winners in Retief Goosen, the World Number Four, and Ernie Els, currently ranked Number Eight.

Goosen won in 2001 while Els is the only multiple winner at Loch Lomond, having been successful in 2000 and 2003 while, alongside them, Spain’s Sergio Garcia makes a welcome re-appearance in Scotland after a lengthy absence. The World Number Nine said:  “It has been several years since I have participated in the event and I am looking forward to playing.  It should be a fantastic week.”

Els, seeking a hat-trick of successes, has a close affinity with Loch Lomond and observed: “It is a very special place and The Barclays Scottish Open is a fantastic tournament - as twice crowned champion it holds great memories for me and I always look forward to playing. 


“It is a wonderful golf course and a wonderful week, and not only for me, but also for my family who always thoroughly enjoy their time at Loch Lomond.”


England’s David Howell, the current European Tour Order of Merit leader and tenth in the World Ranking, returns to action after a short break along with Luke Donald (12th), Colin Montgomerie (13th), José Maria Olazábal (14th) and Tim Clark (17th).


Defending champion Clark of South Africa and Spaniard Olazábal were the two players who chased Phil Mickelson all the way to the winning post in his quest for his second Green Jacket at the 2006 Masters Tournament. Clark finished runner-up to Mickelson and Olazábal tied third at Augusta National.


Clark, who won by two shots from Barclays-sponsored player, Darren Clarke, and Maarten Lafeber last year, said: “Winning The 2005 Barclays Scottish Open title was one of the greatest moments of my career. 


“The support of the crowds was awesome and I won’t forget the excitement of the final day for many years to come!  It is an honour for me to defend my title this year and I am very much looking forward to returning to Loch Lomond.”


Clarke, who would love nothing better than to present his sponsors with a victory, said: “The Barclays Scottish Open is one of the best on The European Tour schedule for several reasons.  It attracts one of the strongest fields of the year, is played on one of the best-conditioned courses and has one of the greatest sponsors.  


“Barclays have turned the Scottish Open into a world-class event and it is one I look forward to every year.   There is always a special atmosphere at Loch Lomond particularly because of its position in the calendar as the last event before The Open.”


The event is of special significance for one proud Scotsman – namely Sam Torrance, who becomes the first player in the history of The European Tour to make 700 starts, 35 years after making his debut on Tour in the Agfa-Gevaert tournament at Stoke Park.


On that occasion, Torrance won the princely sum of £35.10 for his share of 39th place. This week’s champion at Loch Lomond will walk away with a cool £400,000 (€577,540).


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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1EDFORS, JohanSWE18-13
T2DONALD, LukeENG18-11
T2ROMERO, AndresARG18-11
T5CLARK, TimRSA18-10
T5BJÖRN, ThomasDEN18-10
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