Scottish Open: Is it a good predictor for success in the Open Championship?

We look at the last 10 years of Scottish Opens to see how well the leading protagonists fared when contesting the Claret Jug a week later

For a long time the Scottish Open appeared to be missing a trick by hosting the event at Loch Lomond Golf Club.

As nice as the venue was, the inland American-style design wasn't exactly the place for players to hone their links skills for the following week's Open Championship.

But since 2011 the Scottish Open has been staged on links courses, giving Open contenders a competitive atmosphere in which to sharpen up and work on the shots required for seaside golf.

So there's an obvious question: has there been a strong correlation between good finishes in the Scottish Open and the Open Championship?

Here, Planet Sport Golf looks at how the top 10 in all those Scottish Opens since 2011 fared when contesting the Open a week later.

Is it a big predictor for success? Do we note the 10 top players at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick this week and back them for next week's Open Championship at Royal St George's?

2011 - Castle Stuart

1st Luke Donald, 2nd Fredrik Andersson Hed, 3rd Angel Cabrera, George Coetzee, Nicolas Colsaerts, Lorenzo Gagli, Scott Jamieson, Mark Tullo, Martin Wiegele, 10th Robert Coles, Jamie Donaldson, Peter Hanson, Matt Kuchar

Did any of the top 10 perform well in the Open at Royal St George's?

Coetzee was the best performer a week later, finishing tied 15th, although he was seventh after both 36 and 54 holes.

2012 - Castle Stuart

1st Jeev Milkha Singh, 2nd Francesco Molinari, 3rd Alex Noren, Marc Warren, 5th Matthew Baldwin, Soren Kjeldsen, Thomas Levet, 8th Phil Price, Henrik Stenson, Peter Whiteford

Did any of the top 10 perform well in the Open at Royal Lytham?

Alex Noren finished 9th and Matthew Baldwin 23rd. Henrik Stenson didn't play at Lytham while Molinari had to settle for 39th.

2013 - Castle Stuart

1st Phil Mickelson, 2nd Branden Grace, 3rd JB Hansen, Henrik Stenson, 5th Martin Laird, Gareth Maybin, John Parry, 8th Nicolas Colsaerts, Raphael Jacquelin, 10th Marcel Siem, Peter Uihlein

Did any of the top 10 perform well at Muirfield?

You could say that! Phil Mickelson completed a memorable fortnight in Scotland by scoring a follow-up victory in the Open at Muirfield. Third-placed Henrik Stenson was runner-up to Mickelson.

2014 - Royal Aberdeen

1st Justin Rose, 2nd Kristoffer Broberg, 3rd Marc Warren, 4th Stephen Gallacher, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry, Matteo Manassero, 8th Rickie Fowler, Scott Jamieson, Robert Karlsson

Did any of the top 10 perform well at Hoylake?

Justin Rose could only manage 23rd but Rickie Fowler was tied second, Shane Lowry ninth, Robert Karlsson 12th, Stephen Gallacher 15th and Matteo Manassero 19th.

2015 - Gullane

1st Rickie Fowler, 2nd Raphael Jacqulein, Matt Kuchar, 4th Joost Luiten, Eddie Pepperell, Marc Warren, 7th Daniel Brooks, Luke Donald, Ross Fisher, 10th Victor Dubuisson, Tommy Fleetwood, David Howell, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Rikard Karlberg, Russell Knox, YE Yang

Did any of the top 10 perform well at St Andrews?

Not a good year for the Scottish Open acting as a predictor. Luke Donald took 12th on the Old Course a week later but no-one else from the top 10 at Gullane was better than 40th at St Andrews.

2016 - Castle Stuart

1st Alex Noren, 2nd Tyrrell Hatton, 3rd Nicolas Colsaerts, Danny Lee, Matto Manassero, 6th Richie Ramsay, Andy Sullivan, 8th Jorge Campillo, Callum Shinkwin, 10th Russell Knox, Graeme McDowell, Patrick Reed

Did any of the top 10 perform well at Royal Troon?

The runaway 1-2 at Troon - Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson - had both finished 13th at Castle Stuart. Also, Castle Stuart runner-up Tyrrell Hatton was fifth at Troon, while Patrick Reed and Andy Sullivan both took 12th a week later.

2017 - Dundonald

1st Rafa Cabrera Bello, 2nd Callum Shinkwin, 3rd Matthieu Pavon, 4th Andrew Dodt, Ryan Fox, Padraig Harrington, Matt Kuchar, Anthony Wall, 9th Rickie Fowler, Soren Kjeldsen, Ian Poulter, Robert Rock, Lee Slattery, Andy Sullivan

Did any of the top 10 perform well at Royal Birkdale

Fourth-placed Matt Kuchar traded at odds-on to win the Open a week later before being edged out by the inspired Jordan Spieth and finishing runner-up. Winner Rafa Cabrera Bello was tied fourth at Royal Birkdale while Ian Poulter finished tied 14th.

2018 - Gullane

1st Brandon Stone, 2nd Eddie Pepperell, 3rd Jens Dantorp, Trevor Immelman, Luke List, 6th Rickie Fowler, Ryan Fox, Thomas Pieters, 9th Dean Burmester, Stephen Gallacher, Tyrrell Hatton, Aaron Rai, Justin Rose

Did any of the top 10 perform well at Carnoustie?

Runner-up Eddie Pepperell was sixth while Justin Rose shot 64-69 on the weekend to record his best ever Open finish of tied second.

2019 - Renaissance Club

1st Bernd Wiesberger, 2nd Benjamin Hebert, 3rd Romain Langasque, 4th Nino Bertasio, Andrew Johnston, Andrea Pavan, Andrew Putnam, Henrik Stenson, 9th Rafa Cabrera Bello, George Coetzee, Jamie Donaldson, Lee Slattery, Justin Thomas

Did any of the top 10 perform well at Royal Portrush?

Justin Thomas was 11th in Northern Ireland and Henrik Stenson 20th but none of the top 10 at the Renaissance Club made the top 10 at Royal Portrush.

Crunching the numbers

Who made the top 10 in both and where they finished in the Open:

2011 (Castle Stuart) - Alex Noren 9th

2012 (Castle Stuart) - None

2013 (Castle Stuart) - Phil Mickelson Won, Henrik Stenson 2nd

2014 (Royal Aberdeen) - Rickie Fowler 2nd, Shane Lowry 9th

2015 (Gullane) - None

2016 (Castle Stuart) - Tyrrell Hatton 5th

2017 (Dundonald) - Matt Kuchar 2nd, Rafa Cabrera Bello 4th

2018 (Gullane) - Eddie Pepperell 6th, Justin Rose 2nd

2019 (Renaissance) - None

Conclusions

On first glance, the evidence for thinking the Scottish Open is a great predictor doesn't look overwhelming.

In three of the nine editions played since the Scottish Open went to links courses, none of the top 10 made the top 10 in the following week's Open.

However, a fair number of those who finished in the top 10 at the Scottish Open didn't even play the Open a week later. 

And more encouragingly, in four of the last seven years (2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018), two players made the top 10 in both events. Those Scottish Opens were all at different venues (Castle Stuart, Royal Aberdeen, Dundonald and Gullane) so no course has stood out as being the best prep.

Of course, it may also depend on what Open track followed. Perhaps if 50,000 trials were run it would prove that Castle Stuart is the ideal place to play ahead of an Open at say Muirfield. Phil Mickelson would certainly argue it is.

If there is a pattern, it's spotted by having a look at the players who have managed those back-to-back top 10s:

Since 2011 they are: Alex Noren, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Eddie Pepperell and Justin Rose.

That's a pretty tasty list. In fact it contains three Open champions.

Nine of those 10 were past or future Ryder Cup players and seven finished in the top five when battling it out for the Claret Jug. Of those, Mickelson followed his win with another while three others went on to finish runner-up in the big one.

Perhaps the best advice is that if a top player/proven Open performer does well in a Scottish Open, consider him as a worthwhile bet the following week.

Mickelson won the Scottish Open as a 20/1 shot but was that same price the following week at Muirfield when winning again.

Kuchar went off at 66/1 at Royal Birkdale following his tied fourth at Dundonald in 2017 so it doesn't necessarily cause a price crash.

Perhaps that applies even more if the player is American - even though they're perhaps the ones who have taken most benefit from a pre-Open links brush-up on links the week before.

Bottom line, if an American finishes in the top 10 at this week's Scottish Open, put him on your shortlist for Royal St Georges.

A quick check of the field at the Renaissance Club shows there are some notable candidates as Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Justin ThomasScottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris have all flown into Scotland this week. Sam Burns, Ryan Palmer and Billy Horschel are others to track.

READ MORE: Open Sandwich: What the 2011 field said about the Royal St George's test.

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