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McIlroy leads links praise as stars line up in Ayrshire

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 6th hole during a Pro-Am prior to the AAM Scottish Open at Dundonald Links Golf Course on July 12, 2017 in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 6th hole during a Pro-Am prior to the AAM Scottish Open at Dundonald Links Golf Course on July 12, 2017 in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Four of the highest ranked players in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open field have expressed their delight at teeing it up in the Home of Golf for a week of links golf ahead of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale next week.

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy is competing in the tournament for the first time since 2014, and he is targeting a big week at Dundonald Links after the disappointment of missing the cut on home soil at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation last week.

The Open Champion Henrik Stenson experienced the biggest win of his career just a few miles down the North Ayrshire coast at Royal Troon last year, and the Swede is also keen to stress how important the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is as part of his preparations.

Australia’s Adam Scott is returning to the tournament for the first time since 2009, as he tweaks his schedule in a bid to recapture the form that led him to victory at The Masters Tournament in 2013.

Meanwhile, 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler is excited to be rekindling his love of links golf on his return to Scotland.

Defending champion Alex Noren joins McIlroy, Stenson and Fowler as four of the top ten players in the world who will compete at Dundonald Links this week. The stellar field also includes 11 Major winners.

The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is the fourth Rolex Series event of 2017.The premium category of eight tournaments on the Race to Dubai each have a minimum prize fund of US$7million.

Player quotes

Rory McIlroy:

“I think playing links golf is the best way to prepare going into The Open Championship, but the last two weeks are huge events in their own right now, part of the Rolex Series and big ranking points, big prize money. And that’s something I’m focused on, as well. I feel I’ve got ground to make up this year because of not playing as much as I would have wanted, and when I have played, not getting the results that I’ve wanted to. So it’s a big week. I want to play well. I want to have a chance to win and I feel like if I get myself in contention, that’s a great confidence boost for me going into Birkdale, as well.

“The Open Championship is eight days away. We’ve got a big tournament coming up first and I want to play well here. I need to see good signs in my golf game going in there to have a bit of confidence, and I do see good signs, but as I just said, I just need to put it all together and shoot a couple of good scores.

“I think it will be a good test this week. I mean, if the weather stays like it is, you’ll probably see scores like we saw last week at Portstewart. You know, if the wind gets up a little bit, it can be pretty tricky because you have to be pretty accurate off the tee here. The rough is pretty trick in places and if you get yourself out of position, it can become difficult.”

Henrik Stenson:

“To be back here on a beautiful day, it’s easy to remember last summer, of course, and what we managed to accomplish a little bit down the road there.

“It’s been a busy year, and the Scottish Open is an important part of my preparation for The Open Championship, as you know. I’m here to try and play a bit of links golf and hopefully pick up some momentum and some form.

“I haven’t played my best golf this year. I’ve been quite busy off the course, and I’m sure that’s impacted the performances to a degree. But at the same time, I don’t feel like it’s miles away. So we’re just trying to tidy up the loose ends a little bit and get going in the right direction. This week could be a very good week to do that.

“It’s kind of like before and after having kids. When you have kids, your life changes and it’s like you can’t believe what you did with all the time you had before. It’s a little bit the same. I don’t know what I did with my time before I had the Claret Jug in my possession.

“It’s been a busy year, but I don’t want to sit here and complain about it. That’s certainly not the way we look at it. I think it’s going to be a bit of turning the page next week when I have to return The Claret Jug on Monday, and then we’re kind of looking ahead instead of looking back.”

Adam Scott:

“I’ve had a bit of a schedule change this year for lots of different reasons. I guess as good as any was to try and find a little better form going into the Majors. The last year and a half or so, I haven’t played as well in the Majors as I would have liked, and we all put so much focus on the Majors now. But it was time to change it up because my plan wasn’t really working.

“It’s exciting for me to come back and play The Scottish Open. I’ve played so many times in the past and love playing golf up here. So hopefully this does the trick at Dundonald this week and sets me up for a really great week next week.

“But it’s a great field here, too. We’re all going to be tested and good golf is going to be required. I feel like over the years, there were a couple chances I had and never really closed it out. And to win the Scottish Open would certainly be very nice on the resumé.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working on the game and getting everything to where I want it. The U.S. Open was very disappointing because I felt I was in very good shape, but I putted poorly for the first week of the year. I putted really well this year, and that was a real disappointment. I’m out to change that this week because it’s been hard to sit back at home for three weeks after having a disappointing result and waiting patiently for my next chance.”

Rickie Fowler:

“I’m definitely looking forward to being back here in Scotland. I was a little bummed that we weren’t able to make it back last year with some schedule conflicts, but getting the win here in 2015 at Gullane was great, I always love playing over here in Scotland. Links golf is probably my favourite. Any time I get a chance to play it, I do.

“I got to play the course here on Monday, I thought it was fun to play. A lot of variety on the tee shots, not just drivers on every hole. I like that about links golf, depending on what the weather is going to do, which looks like it could be pretty mild this week.

“I’m looking forward to this week here, just because I feel like I know I can play well on links courses. I’m looking forward to playing this week here and getting myself in position to go win the tournament. I’ve been playing well this year and everything has been trending in the right direction, being in contention at the first two Majors.

“The Scottish Open has been great for me going into The Open, and with my best finish in The Open coming after I played my first Scottish Open up in Aberdeen, I think there’s a lot of good that can happen these next two weeks.”