With the Open Championship just around the corner, many superstars are sitting this out as they prepare for the year’s third major. Despite this, the event will feature a fairly high-class field, with major winners Phil Mickelson and Martin Kaymer, as well as world number six Henrik Stenson and the talented Branden Grace. A win for any player on the links of Castle Stuart on Sunday will go a long way for their confidence heading into the 145th Open at Royal Troon next week. Many pundits are picking Stenson as the outright favourite this week, largely due to his three stroke win at the BMW International Open two weeks ago. As per usual, the Swede has been a picture of consistency, with five other top six finishes in 2016.
South Africa’s Branden Grace lost out in a playoff at the same venue in 2013. This time round, he returns a much more complete player, with five more wins under his belt. Two of those victories were earlier this year and he is coming off a T5 and a T10 amongst top class fields at the U.S Open and WGC – Bridgestone Invitational respectively. Phil Mickelson was the man that edged Grace in the sudden death playoff in 2013, which was the prelude to his most recent win at the Open Championship the following week. Following this dry spell, the veteran would no doubt give almost anything for a repeat in Scotland. Mickelson has found his best form in while this year with two-runner-up finishes, so perhaps that all-important win is just around the corner.
Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer has enjoyed a decent run of late, notching up four top seven finishes in his last seven outings. Last time out, Kaymer was in contention during the final round of the 100th Open de France last week and would finish T5 in the end. Despite being winless since 2014, this has put the German firmly in the bookies’ sights. Another outsider to look out for is Patrick Reed, who has no less than seven top ten finishes so far in 2016. The talented American is playing his trade on the European Tour and while he hasn’t yet proved himself on a links course, he could be dangerous if given a sniff of a win on Sunday afternoon.