Tommy Fleetwood will tee it up for the first time on British soil this season when the Englishman targets the fourth Rolex Series title of his career at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
The Renaissance Club plays host to Scotland’s national open for the second successive time, and the 29-year-old is excited by the prospect of playing the venue on Scotland’s Golf Coast for the first time.
The World Number 17 earned a top three finish in his last regular season European Tour event at the Portugal Masters and he is feeling quietly confident of challenging for the title in North Berwick.
“I think since being back out playing again from late summer when I first came back out and after the covid lockdown, I think I haven’t played great, and again, the year has been very different.
“Portugal I played great and I chose to play because I knew I had gone home and I was having to work on things. Struggled with a few things. I didn’t putt very well but overall I hit it great on what was a very, very difficult golf course to hit fairways.
“But again, I’ve been home and feel like my game is progressing – I’m feeling more optimistic about every practice session I’m having and going out there and hitting it well this week, which is great. I’m not particularly happy with my form, but I feel positive.
Fleetwood’s playing partner this week is defending champion Bernd Wiesberger and the Austrian has his sights set on creating history by becoming the first player to successfully defend the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open title.
The 34-year-old won at The Renaissance Club last year after beating Benjamin Hebert in a play-off, and in doing so adding his name to a list of past winners that reads like a who’s who of golf.
“It was obviously a memorable week for me,” said Wiesberger, “it’s going to stick with me for a long time. I’ve had a lovely week here last year. Not only from the golf side but in general, I love coming to Scotland and play tournament golf up here in various sorts of conditions whether it be links courses or green land, parkland courses and obviously found April pretty good set up for me last year. It’s nice to be back and hopefully we can recreate some of the stuff we did here last year.
“Obviously it’s cold, you need four layers, the wind has picked up and pretty cold. We can expect a lot cooler conditions, last year than in the summer and wetter. We’ve had perfect conditions in 2019, which then obviously led to very low scoring.
“It seemed like everyone around here at Renaissance had intentions to protect the golf course a little bit against low scoring. They have lengthened a couple holes, a bit of rerouting going on, so we started off with what used to be 10 and 11 and they have lengthened those two holes by, I’d say, 70, 80 yards easily, so a couple odd holes have followed up, as well, 15 and 16 have lengthened, as well.
“On top of that, end much the summer, rough a little bit thicker. They have had a little bit of rain, as well, and you want to be a bit more precise probably off the tee than what was asked for last year. All in all I’m assuming that scoring is not going to go anywhere near where we had it last year.”
‘Can’t wait to get going in the homeland @ScottishOpen— Robert MacIntyre (@robert1lefty) September 30, 2020
Renaissance looking brilliant but going to be strange not having everybody there watching 🤷🏼♂️
See you in the morning @TommyFleetwood1 @BWiesberger 👀😉 pic.twitter.com/L7nngTjx1I
Fleetwood and Wiesberger are joined in an exciting three-ball alongside home favourite Robert MacIntyre, who plays the event for just the second time in his career.
“It’s only my second one, and the Scottish Open, for us Scottish guys, it’s the one that you want to win. And if you can have a chance at winning it come Sunday, then you’ve done everything well over the week. The prestige is always there, being a Scotsman, and obviously it’s the one that you want to win.
“It’s definitely tougher than last year. The weather of course is a bit cooler. Looks like it’s going to be a wee bit windier. There’s new tee boxes on a few of the holes. They’ve lengthened it, so it’s going to be a good test this week.
“I just need to do what I’ve been doing. It’s just not been — my game has not been on the level I’d hope it to be, but it’s coming along nicely. I’ve played in some top, top events this year and made the cut in them. It’s not like I am not playing good, it’s just I’ve not got the cutting edge this year that I did last year. We’ll just try and find it.”