Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Ernie Els wants to maintain his excellent recent form at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open as he prepares to defend his Open Championship title at Muirfield next week.
The South African played at Castle Stuart Golf Links 12 months ago before lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St Annes, and hopes to repeat the trick this year after some impressive displays of late.
Since finishing 13th at the Masters Tournament, Els has been sixth at Wentworth, fourth in the US Open Championship and won in Germany on The European Tour.
“It's always nice to get a bounty of preparation going into an Open Championship,” said Els, a two-time winner of this event when it was held at Loch Lomond. “I've always loved playing The Scottish Open.
“Since they moved it to Castle Stuart, I've been fortunate enough to come up here. It also helps staying up at Skibo. I bring the whole family up and we've been doing that for the last three years or so, and they just have a ball up there.
“To come back to the preparation, I was not going to play, but I always had in the back of my mind that it is tough to go into a Major with a three week break. I think I might have done it in the past but I feel a little awkward doing that.
“So I felt coming up here and having a holiday with the kids or they having a holiday and me working a bit and playing Castle Stuart is good preparation.
“Obviously playing an Open the week after The Scottish Open is perfect preparation to play some kind of links form. Castle Stuart is a very new links course. I love it because it's not as tough as the week of The Open.
“I've been to Muirfield. I know we are not going to talk about it, but I've been there, and I just feel to see a bit of bounce in the ball going into an Open is what you want to see.”