Why Open hopefuls Schauffele and Morikawa are smart to tee it up in Scotland

History says players give themselves the best chance of winning the Open Championship by playing the week before.

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Xander Schauffele to win Scottish Open at 12/1

The game's top players have always had different ways of preparing for a Major.

Some like a competitive warm-up; others prefer a quieter build-up away from tournament action.

But when it comes to the Open Championship, history says that the wise move is to tee it up the week before.

Eight of the last 10 Claret Jug winners had competed the week before: not necessarily to a high level but having the competitive engine already running proved to be beneficial.

For American golfers, it seems to make particular sense. After all, they get to play hardly any links golf so having a brush up in the previous week's Scotttish Open lessens the culture shock.

So, with that eight out of 10 stat in mind, punters pondering their bets for next week's Open at Royal St George's will note that Xander Schauffele, Collin MorikawaJustin Thomas and Scottie Scheffler are all playing the Scottish Open.

They will also note that Dustin JohsonBryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka are not.

World No.5 Schauffele was the runner-up in the 2018 Open at Carnoustie so knows that perhaps playing in Scotland could be the final piece of the puzzle, something he didn't do three years ago.

World No.4 Morikawa has never played an event on European soil so could definitely do with some links reps.

World No.3 Justin Thomas knows all about the value of good prep. He was the only player in the 2018 US Ryder Cup team to get an early look at Le Golf National by coming over to contest the Open de France.

Thomas clearly felt the benefit, ending a difficult week for the Americans as their top points scorer.

Whether the US raiders are a good bet to win in Scotland remains to be seen. But the very fact they're in the field could just give them a vital edge for Royal St George's.

Here's what Schauffele and Morikawa said when speaking to reporters pre-tournament:

Xander Schauffele

Previous Scottish Open form: None

Previous Open form: T20 Royal Birkdale, T2 Carnoustie, T41 Royal Portrush

On playing in Scotland

"It's great to be over here. For some reason, I grew up in San Diego, so it's vastly different on this side. But I've always really enjoyed playing golf over here, different style of play obviously and I just look forward to colder weather, windier weather.

"It's obviously difficult, like I said, growing up on the West Coast of the United States. I don't know if it's the European blood in me but I do enjoy it."

On why he chose to play the event

"Simple, for me. I typically make a trip over just to get acclimated to the time with my family. COVID solved that problem for me. So I figured I would come and play, and I've been close to playing this tournament in years past just before The Open.

"So I figured there's no better way to prepare than to play."

On expectations for this week and next

"My big focus right now is getting my body and mind on to this time zone and sort of the way I've been playing the last couple days is sort of secondary. I'm just trying to get my mind in the right place and ready for Thursday.

"The game is good enough and just got to sort of think my way around the property differently. Obviously parkland golf is not the same, and links-style golf is very different. A lot of the thought process before I even hit a shot is what I'm trying to work on more."

On the Renaissance Club course

"I've heard a lot of the European folks say it's an American links-style course. Obviously I think the greens are what makes it more of an American-style links. They are very dramatic in undulation and slope, so you might be pushed towards chipping in certain areas versus the traditional putt around the greens.

"I think the course is awesome. I think it's fun. I hope it's playing as hard as possible. I've seen in years past that 22-under has won and the last year or last time it was played, Aaron won at 11-under. So I think the weather plays a big part in how difficult it will play."

On his second place at Carnoustie in 2018 and why he did well

"I think it's just so different for Americans to play overseas, and I think it's sort of that bit of adversity that sort of makes you think outside the box and maybe tap more into your imagination.

"I think I really enjoy that challenge of trying to think a little bit more, and knowing that playing sort of links-style or very different courses over here in Europe, it almost -- your sort of search for perfection that you can kind of get stuck into on parkland golf sort of disappears for me.

"I sort of fall in love with hitting shots and trying to hit different shots versus trying to work on my swing or anything like that. I really enjoy the challenge of sort of thinking outside the box when I play overseas."

Collin Morikawa

Previous Scottish Open form: None

Previous Open form: None

On playing this week

"First time in Europe. Obviously I've played a few events on The European Tour, but to finally be here knowing that I was going to kind of put this in my schedule for quite a while now, I'm excited.

"It's a little rainy. It's been rainy the past couple days but it's exciting to see the field and guys I've grown up with that I've talked about in the past, guys out here I've known for quite a while, growing up in the US, playing amateur golf with them.

"I enjoy it. European Tour puts on a great tournament for us and hopefully we can play some good golf, as well."

On the different strategy required to keep his good form going

"I'd say over the past month has been solid golf and it's been really good golf. Hopefully I'm able to bring that game out here and play it and figure out how to play out here.

"Obviously it's not true linksy-type golf course, but it's still different than what we see out in the US. It's not the normal greens you see, the run-offs. Normally out there in the US, you can just fly everything kind of close to the hole and see it stop and bounce.

"So it's a learning curve but it's a learning curve that I enjoy and I love being creative. I love kind of coming out here and it kind of fits my game. How do I figure out how do I hit my iron shots, play certain pins, play aggressive to certain hole locations out here.

"It's really enjoyable to see a new course and figure out in these next kind of two days how to play the golf course."

READ MORE: The linksland records of the leading contenders at the Scottish Open

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