The last two players to lift the claret jug prepared for the British Open by honing their links game at the Scottish Open the previous weeks.
Darren Clarke played at Castle Stuart before winning golf's oldest major in 2011 at a wet and wild Royal St. George's. Ernie Els captured the Open title at Lytham last year just days after playing four rounds on the Moray Firth coastline.
Some of the world's top golfers may, therefore, eventually regret turning down the opportunity to play in the Scottish Highlands this week before making the short drive to Muirfield for the British Open.
Els and four-time major winner Phil Mickelson are the only players from the world's top 25 who'll be competing in the Scottish event, backing up Graeme McDowell's recent assertion that the tournament has ''lost its prestige.''
''Castle Stuart probably hasn't been a strong enough course the past couple of years,'' the 2010 U.S. Open champion said, perhaps ignoring the course's record of providing ideal pre...