A 16-strong home challenge, led by Major Champion Paul Lawrie and US PGA Tour star Martin Laird, will go for glory in next week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Colin Montgomerie, in 1999, was the last Scot to win his national Open but World Number 54 Laird will approach his fifth consecutive appearance in the £3million tournament with a fair degree of confidence, having won his third US PGA Tour title in stunning fashion at the Valero Texas Open in April, closing with a round of 63 to prevail by two strokes from Rory McIlroy.
After a third round of 64 at Castle Stuart Golf Links last year, the 26 year old – who was born in Glasgow but now lives in Arizona – had entered the final day within three shots of the lead, only for his challenge to falter with a closing 74.
Laird’s fellow Scot Marc Warren came even closer to lifting the trophy in Inverness 12 months ago, but his title bid unravelled with four dropped shots in three holes towards the end of his round.
Like Laird, Warren – currently 21st in The Race to Dubai – has been in fine form this season, with two top five finishes to his name including in the BMW PGA Championship, where he was edged out in a play-off by Matteo Manassero.
Other notable Scots in the elite field include two winners from The 2013 European Tour International Schedule, Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson, who lie 23rd and 13th respectively in The Race to Dubai.
Gallacher doubled his haul of European Tour titles with victory in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, whilst Jamieson secured his maiden Tour title in the season-opening Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa last December.
Other Scots who have tasted success on The European Tour include Richie Ramsay, winner of the 2012 South African Open Championship and the 2012 Omega European Masters.
His compatriot Peter Whiteford came agonisingly close to joining Ramsay in the winners’ enclosure at the Ballantine’s Championship in April, but was denied a maiden victory in the play-off by Brett Rumford.
Sponsors’ invitations have been extended to James Byrne, Major Champion Sandy Lyle, Callum Macaulay and two-time European Tour winner Gary Orr, while Greig Hutcheon owes his place in the field to his position at the top of the Tartan Tour Order of Merit.
The Scottish contingent is rounded off by Craig Lee and Challenge Tour champions Chris Doak, David Drysdale and Scott Henry, who is playing his first full season on The European Tour this year.
The Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister of Scotland, said: “It is fantastic to see so many Scots in the field of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. Scottish golf is on a real high at the moment with a lot of Scots playing well on The European Tour, and many young players breaking through as well.
“I’d like to wish all the Scottish players the best of luck at Castle Stuart, and it would be great to see a home winner of our national Open to inspire the next generation of Scottish golfers.”