Padraig Harrington is amongst a field full of European Tour winners for the inaugural Scottish Championship presented by AXA this week.
The three-time Major winner will tee-up in his fourth tournament since making his return at the Irish Open at Galgorm Castle last month.
Harrington was initially expected to play his national open before returning home for the foreseeable amid Covid-19 but so impressed with the safety within the European Tour bubble, the Dubliner remained part of it, heading to the Scottish Open and last week’s BMW PGA Championship before eyeing another event this week on the Torrance Course at Fairmont St Andrews.
Yet there’s no doubt that Harrington’s form has encouraged him to remain on Tour in recent weeks, too. With Ryder Cup duties put off until January, Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain has been able to concentrate on his own game and the work has paid dividends.
A narrow missed cut first week back in Ireland was followed by a top-10 result at the Renaissance Club and a top-40 finish at Wentworth, where Harrington says his usual strengths somewhat abandoned him at the European Tour’s flagship event.
“I drove the ball well,” Harrington said of his performance in Surrey. “I think I was sixth in strokes gained off the tee, seventh in accuracy which is unusual for me, and I putted well, even though my strokes gained putting wasn’t so good, I was really happy with the way I struck my putts.
“But my iron play was a real struggle. Every time I went to hit an iron, it kind of felt like I hadn’t warmed up – like I was hitting the ball on a cold day, a bit of a lunge and there was nothing too smooth about it. Certainly a bit of rhythm needed going into this week.”
“I’m looking forward to it. I think I’m in good form. My weaknesses are strong at the moment so I just need to get my normal strengths of iron play and wedge play and short game up there as well.”
Former World Number One Lee Westwood joins Harrington this week in Scotland along with a strong contingent of home grown players including the most recent Scottish winner on the European Tour, Marc Warren, fellow winners David Law, Scott Jamieson and Richie Ramsay, former Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher and the 2019 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, Robert MacIntyre.
A host of Westwood’s fellow Rolex Series champions will be in the field at Fairmont from October 15-18, including newly crowned Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open winner Aaron Rai, and the 2018 winner of Scotland’s national open, South African Brandon Stone.
A host of European Tour winners also make up a stellar field, including Italy’s Renato Paratore, Australian Min Woo Lee, England’s Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace, and their compatriot Sam Horsfield – a two-time winner on the 2020 Race to Dubai.
Warren, who won his fourth European Tour title at the Austrian Open in July, and recorded his best Rolex Series finish with fourth place at his home open two weeks ago, said:
“To have two tournaments in three weeks in Scotland is great, and I always enjoy going to St Andrews. I’ve stayed at Fairmont St Andrews a few times and played The Open Qualifying a couple of years ago on the Torrance Course. It’s a great layout, tough if the wind gets up. It will be a good test, especially at this time of year.
“Everyone behind the scenes is working so hard to get events on. We feel really safe playing and hopefully we can continue to produce some good golf up in St Andrews and give people at home some enjoyment as well.”
The inaugural Scottish Championship presented by AXA rounds off a second UK Swing on the 2020 Race to Dubai, following the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Northern Ireland (September 24-27), the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club (October 1-4) and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth (October 8-11).
John Keating, Area General Manager Accor Luxury Brands Scotland and Ireland, added: “We would like to welcome back those who have played in St Andrews before, and extend a warm welcome to those whose first time it is playing on the Torrance Course. There is a great mix of experience and rising talent so it is shaping up to be a very competitive week ahead. We wish every player the best of luck.”
The Torrance Course at Fairmont St Andrews has previously hosted events including the Scottish Youth National Championship, the Scottish Senior Open and is one of The Open Qualifying sites. The venue boasts two world class golf courses and has iconic views overlooking the historic ‘Home of Golf’ and St Andrews Bay.