12 Jul 2018

Scottish Open: Who to look out for

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Date of Birth: July 23, 1989
Birthplace: Bangkok, Thailand
Height: 5’ 8”
European Tour titles: 4

Kiradech Aphibarnrat wrapped up his fourth European Tour title in fine style earlier this season with victory in the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth, beating James Nitties 2&1 in the final to get back inside the top 50 in the Official World Ranking. He has gone on to post fifth place finishes in the World Golf Championships Mexico Championship and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and was also fifth at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club. The Thai won his first European Tour title in 2013 at the Maybank Malaysian Open, defeating Edoardo Molinari by one stroke. In 2015 he had his best season on Tour, winning the Shenzhen International and the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play at Murcar Links. He had a glittering amateur career, having won his age group at the 2003 and 2004 Junior World Golf Championships before turning professional four years later.

Thomas Bjørn

Date of Birth: February 18, 1971
Birthplace: Silkeborg, Denmark
Height: 6’ 3”
European Tour titles: 15

European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn collected his 15th European Tour title in stunning fashion in 2014 as weekend rounds of 66-65 gave him a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Jamie Donaldson at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa. Bjørn had an excellent season that year with six top tens in addition to his victory and he made a return to The European Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles for the first time since 2002. The Dane won the first of his European Tour titles in 1996 at the Loch Lomond World Invitational and the following year went on to become the first Dane to play in The Ryder Cup, at Valderrama. He will Captain the side in Paris later this year. Bjørn won the 2006 Irish Open but then had a four-year wait until his next win which came at the Open de Portugal before winning three titles in 2011. As a player Bjørn never tasted Ryder Cup defeat, having been part of winning teams in 1997, 2002 and 2014.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Date of Birth: September 1, 1994
Birthplace: Sheffield, England
Height: 5’ 9”
European Tour titles: 4

Having only joined the European Tour in 2015, Fitzpatrick has enjoyed a rapid rise with four titles to his name already. The last of those came at the 2017 Omega European Masters where he held his nerve to come through a play-off against Scott Hend. The year before, he enjoyed the biggest win of his career when he got his hands on the DP World Tour Championship trophy with a one stroke victory over compatriot Tyrrell Hatton. Fitzpatrick secured his maiden victory in 2015 when he went wire-to-wire at the British Masters supported by Sky Sports in his rookie season, after coming through Qualifying School in 2014. Before turning pro, he enjoyed a stellar amateur career when he won the 2013 US Amateur Championship as well as being a former World Amateur Number One. In 2016 he won the Nordea Masters, which helped him towards a career-high sixth place finish in the Race to Dubai Rankings and a spot in the European Ryder Cup team.

Padraig Harrington

Date of Birth: August 31, 1971
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Height: 6’2”
European Tour victories: 15
Major Championships: 3

Padraig Harrington won three out of six Majors in a two-year spell of superb golf which has cemented his place as a modern day European great. The Irishman won his first Major at The 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, defeating Sergio Garcia in a four-hole play-off and was later named The European Tour Golfer of the Year. A year later he defended his crown with a four stroke victory over Ian Poulter at Royal Birkdale and then made it back-to-back Majors with a sensational two-stroke victory at the US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. His performances earned him both The European Tour’s Golfer of the Year and the US PGA Tour’s Player of the Year accolades.
The Dubliner is a veteran of six consecutive Ryder Cups from 1999 through to the epic 2010 victory at Celtic Manor and later this year he will serve as an Vice Captain to Thomas Bjørn.

Tyrrell Hatton

Date of Birth: October 14, 1991
Birthplace: High Wycombe, England
Height: 5’ 9”
European Tour titles: 3

Tyrrell Hatton asserted his status as one of the finest players on the European Tour with back-to-back victories last season, including a first Rolex Series triumph at the Italian Open. Hatton successfully defended his title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland before rolling in a birdie putt on the final green in Italy to win by one stroke ahead of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ross Fisher. In 2016 Hatton posted top ten finishes at The Open and the US PGA Championship before going on to win his first title at St. Andrews, defeating Ross Fisher and Richard Sterne by four strokes. He finished the best season of his career in fourth place in the Race to Dubai with nine top tens, in addition to his victory. So far this season Hatton has four top tens, including third-place finishes at the WGC-Mexico Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and a share of sixth place at the US Open.

Robert Karlsson

Date of Birth: September 3, 1969
Birthplace: Katrinholm, Sweden
Height: 6’6”
European Tour titles: 11

Former European Number One and 11-time European Tour winner Robert Karlsson will serve as one of Thomas Bjørn’s Vice Captains at The Ryder Cup in September. The Swede was twice a playing member of Team Europe in 2006 and 2008 and topped the Race to Dubai in 2008 thanks to wins at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Later that year he capped the finest season of his career by winning the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China for Sweden, alongside Henrik Stenson. Karlsson won two titles in 2010 with his first coming at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. He then ended the season in top form, defeating Ian Poulter in a play-off at the DP World Tour Championship to finish sixth on the Race to Dubai. After turning professional in 1989 Karlsson won the first of his 11 titles at the 1995 Turespaña Open Mediterrania.

Matt Kuchar

Date of Birth: June 21, 1978
Birthplace: Florida, United States
Height: 6’ 4”
European Tour titles: 1

American Matt Kuchar is making his eighth appearance at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open this week and he’s aiming to continue his fine record in the event. Kuchar was runner-up to Rickie Fowler here at Gullane in 2015 and last year finished fourth. He went on to finish runner-up at The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. The 40-year-old has been a fixture in the United States Ryder Cup team since 2010 and has won seven titles on the PGA Tour, including the Players Championship in 2012, plus one title on the European Tour at the WGC-Match Play Championship in 2013. His last victory came in 2014 when he holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie to win by one shot from Luke Donald at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island. Kuchar turned professional in 2000 and won his first Tour title in 2002 at the Honda Classic but had to wait seven years until his next victory at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama

Date of Birth: February 25, 1992
Birthplace: Ehime, Japan
Height: 5’ 11”
European Tour titles: 2

Hideki Matsuyama has been in solid form this season with eight top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour including a share of fourth place at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The leading Japanese won his second World Golf Championships title last year with a runaway five-stroke win over Zach Johnson at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Matsuyama has posted seven top tens in the Majors since turning professional in 2013 including a runner-up finish at last year’s US Open at Erin Hills. He won his first title in 2014 at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village and won twice in 2016 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the WGC-HSBC Champions. Last year he successfully defended his title in Phoenix before winning at Firestone Country Club. He has played in three editions of the Presidents Cup after making his debut for the International Team in 2013.

Graeme McDowell

Date of Birth: July 30, 1979
Birthplace: Portrush, Northern Ireland
Height: 5’10”
European Tour titles: 10
Major Championships: 1

Graeme McDowell etched his name into the history books by becoming the first European winner of the US Open in 40 years with victory at Pebble Beach in 2010. McDowell later capped a memorable season by winning the Andalucía Valderrama Masters to finish second on the Race to Dubai. The Ulsterman won his tenth European Tour title in 2014 with the successful defence of his Open de France crown, and in September that year he played a starring role in Europe’s successful Ryder Cup defence, with three points from three matches including victory in the opening singles match against Jordan Spieth at Gleneagles. A former Scottish Open winner at Loch Lomond in 2008, McDowell made his Ryder Cup debut later that year, tasting defeat at Valhalla, but has made winning contributions for Team Europe in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Later this year he will serve as Vice Captain to Thomas Bjørn in Paris.

Phil Mickelson

Date of Birth: June 16, 1970
Birthplace: San Diego, United States
Height: 6’ 3”
European Tour titles: 10
Major Championships: 5

Phil Mickelson is a modern day legend with five Major titles, 11 consecutive Ryder Cup appearances dating back to 1995 and 43 wins on the PGA Tour. The American won his last Major title here in East Lothian at the 2013 Open Championship and he continues to compete at the highest level, winning the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier this season with a play-off win over Justin Thomas. Mickelson won his first Major in fine style, rolling in a birdie putt on the final green to deny Ernie Els at the 2004 Masters. The following year he won the US PGA Championship with a one-stroke win over Thomas Bjørn and Steve Elkington before he won the Green Jacket for a second time in 2006. He then won The Masters for a third time in 2010 before getting his hands on the Claret Jug five years ago with a memorable final round 66 for a three-stroke win. That win came just seven days after he clinched the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open for the first time at Castle Stuart.

Louis Oosthuizen

Date of Birth: October 19, 1982
Birthplace: Mossel Bay, South Africa
Height: 5’ 11”
European Tour titles: 8
Major Championships: 1

SINCE strolling to a seven stroke victory at the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews Louis Oosthuizen has blossomed into one of the most consistent players in the world. The South African picked up his first Major at the Home of Golf in just his ninth start in a Major and it came just a few months after he won his first European Tour title at the Open de Andalucia. He won the Africa Open in 2011 and 2012 and after suffering the heartache of losing a play-off to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters he won the Maybank Malaysian Open the following week. Oosthuizen has eight European Tour titles to his name, with his most recent victory coming at the ISPS Handa Perth International in 2016. With his runner-up finish at last year’s US PGA Championship he has now finished second in all four of the Majors. He has been in solid form this year on the PGA Tour with a third place finish at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and a fifth place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational.

Ian Poulter

Date of Birth: January 10, 1976
Birthplace: Hitchin, England
Height: 6’ 1”
European Tour titles: 12

Ian Poulter clinched his first title in six years with a superb win at the PGA Tour’s Houston Open in April where he held his nerve to defeat Beau Hossler in a play-off and secure the last spot in The Masters. Poulter’s last win on the European Tour came in 2012 at the WGC-HSBC Champions, just two months after he inspired Europe’s heroic comeback in The Ryder Cup at Medinah. Poulter made his Ryder Cup debut in 2004 and has represented Europe five times, tasting defeat just once at Valhalla in 2008 where he was Europe’s top performer. He started playing the game aged four and turned pro in 1996 before competing on the Challenge Tour in 1999. The same year he secured his playing rights on the European Tour after earning a Tour card through Qualifying School. He won his first title at the Italian Open in 2000.

Lee Westwood

Date of Birth: April 24, 1973
Birthplace: Worksop, England
Height: 6’ 1”
European Tour titles: 23

Lee Westwood secured his 23rd European Tour title at the 2014 Maybank Malaysian Open with a massive seven strokes over three players. That same year he also won two points to help Europe to an emphatic win in The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in what was his ninth appearance in the biennial competition. Westwood has topped the money list on the European Tour twice, with the first coming in 2000 when he won five times to put an end to Colin Montgomerie’s seven-year reign as Europe’s Number One. He repeated the feat in 2009 when he won the Portugal Masters and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship to win the Race to Dubai in grand style. Westwood became World Number One in 2010, a position he held for a total of 22 weeks, and later this year will continue his Ryder Cup legacy as one of Thomas Bjørn’s Vice Captain’s in Paris.


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