Luke Donald hoping for links effect at Scottish Open

Scottish Open

Venue:
Castle Stuart, nr Inverness
Date:
7-10 July
Coverage:
First round highlights: BBC Two, Thursday 2320 BST. Second round highlights: BBC Two, Friday 2350 BST. Live coverage of Saturday's third round on BBC Two (1300-1430) and BBC One (1430-1715), and Sunday's final round on BBC Two (1330-1730). Scores and reports on BBC Sport website.

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Donald hoping to get into links swing

World number one Luke Donald believes playing at the Scottish Open this week will improve his hopes of winning the Open in Sandwich.

Donald joins Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Phil Mickelson at the Castle Stuart links near Inverness for the course's first Scottish Open.

"I've always felt like playing links golf leading into the British Open is very important," Donald said.

"I'm looking forward to getting that feel and that spirit of links golf."

Donald, who became world number one when he won the PGA Championship at Wentworth at the end of May, has not played in the traditional Open warm-up event since finishing tied for fourth in Loch Lomond in 2007.

But he thinks moving the Scottish Open from the parkland Loch Lomond course to the links of Castle Stuart is a good idea in that it will prepare players for what is to come at Royal St George's.

"We hardly ever play links golf and it's very different to what I play week-in, week-out," added Donald, who has taken a break from competitive golf since finishing tied for 45th in the US Open at Congressional last month.

"It takes some time to adjust to where to land the ball, those chip-and-run shots you get a lot.

"To get in an extra week of practice on links in tournament conditions, under pressure, is very helpful. I'm sure it will be good preparation."

Westwood, who could usurp Donald as world number one this week, is also hoping a tournament on a links course will prove beneficial as, like his Ryder Cup colleague, he seeks a first major title.

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Westwood predicts 'wide-Open' championship

"If you play well this week and come out with a good result - obviously winning would be fantastic - that's momentum going into next week," said the 38-year-old, who has finished in the top-three at five of the last seven majors.

"It's 1995 since I played links golf right before the Open Championship [where he finished joint 96th at St Andrews]. That was Carnoustie [then home of the Scottish Open] - I think I'm a better player than I was back then, so we'll see what effect it has."

Defending Open champion Louis Oosthuizen does not believe missing Castle Stuart will harm his chances at Sandwich, however.

The South African has instead decided to play in American conditions at the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

"I withdrew from the Memorial earlier in the year and so it's a tournament that's off my schedule that I need to get back," he said.

"It's a difficult year playing two tours. I need to get 15 events in America.

"It was 50/50 but you're going to play in perfect weather over here, in Scotland you can get not-great weather and I just felt I'd rather have a proper week where I can play and work a bit on my game.

"I've known links golf quite a while and didn't feel it was too necessary to play a links course before the Open."

Former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has one final chance to qualify for his 22nd consecutive Open, with one non-exempt player earning a place in the Championship providing he finishes in the top five at Castle Stuart.

The 48-year-old, who slipped to 420th in the world rankings during his Ryder Cup reign but has now climbed to 285th in the world, admitted: "It's going to be difficult, very difficult, but I've got a good draw with Luke Donald and Peter Hanson, two of my Ryder Cup team, hopefully they can pull me along."