Genesis Scottish Open provides stern test ahead of Open Championship

* Rory McIlroy seeks to defend his 2023 Scottish Open title. * The Renaissance Club provides a challenging test ahead of the British Open.
Rory McIlroy - Genesis Scottish Open
Rory McIlroy - Genesis Scottish Open / Andrew Redington/GettyImages

As we enter the heart of summer, the professional golf world turns its attention to the United Kingdom, and specifically to Scotland, the home of golf. That’s where the best players in the world will tee it up the next two weeks – first at the Genesis Scottish Open this week and then at the Open Championship the following week.

Here are four storylines to watch for this week at the Genesis Scottish Open.

Links Test Provides Prep for The British Open

With its place on the schedule just ahead of the Open Championship, the Scottish Open offers the perfect opportunity for players to get in some links golf before teeing it up in the season’s final major. That wasn’t always the case. From 1996 until 2010, the Scottish Open was contested at Loch Lomond, a parkland-style course.

To draw more top players ahead of the Open Championship, the tournament’s organizers decided to move the tournament to a links course. In 2019, The Renaissance Club in North Berwick began hosting the championship. The par-70 course – built in 2008 and located 20 miles east of Edinburgh – plays to 7,237 yards and offers stunning views of the Firth of Forth.

Can a Scottish-born Player Win the Genesis Scottish Open?

The 2023 Genesis Scottish Open provided drama down to the final shot. Scotland’s own Robert MacIntyre made birdie on the last hole to hold the clubhouse lead at 14-under par. However, hot on his heels was Rory McIlroy who needed par on the 18th in tough conditions to force a playoff. With 202 yards left into a howling wind, McIlroy unleashed a sawed-off 2-iron stinger that penetrated the wind, found the putting surface, and nestled within 15 feet of the hole. He paid it off and drained the birdie putt to break MacIntyre’s heart and claim his second DP World Tour Rolex Series title.  

“To finish two-three (birdies on 17 and 18) in these conditions…the five iron into 17 and the two iron into the last are probably two of the best shots I’ve hit all year,” said McIlroy.

The last Scotsman to win the Scottish Open was Colin Montgomerie in 1999. However, the Scots are entering the championship in fine form, with MacIntyre playing well, as well as last week’s winner on the DP World Tour, Ewen Ferguson who won the BMW International Open. Connor Syme and Calum Hill are two other Scots to keep an eye on this week.

Defending Champion Rory McIlroy Looking to Overcome Adversity

Speaking of McIlroy, we haven’t seen or heard from the defending Scottish Open champion since his heartbreaking loss at the U.S. Open last month. Despite dealing with personal issues and difficult course conditions, McIlroy held a two-shot lead late in the tournament and looked primed to finally capture that elusive fifth major title. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Despite a remarkable season that includes a win on the DP World Tour and two wins on the PGA Tour, McIlroy will be looking to make a serious final push as the season winds down, including in Scotland the next two weeks and the FedEx Cup playoffs in August. Who knows? That fifth major title may just be within reach after all.

Scottish Open Provides Final Qualifying Opportunity for British Open

Players have one final chance to qualify for next week’s Open Championship at Royal Troon, with 41 players already having secured their spots through The Open Qualifying Series. Out of 16 events spanning across 11 countries, this is the final event in the series and those not already exempt will be competing hard to make their way into the last major of the year. Three spots are up for grabs and will go to the top finishers who are not already qualified.

Coverage of the 2024 Genesis Scottish Open begins on Thursday, July 11th, and continues through Sunday, July 14th, on Golf Channel and CBS. Check your local listings for times.