It's a new venue for this year's Scottish Open as we hit the sixth oldest golf club in the world. Royal Aberdeen and the Balgownie Links, unlike previous preceding Open championship weeks, where tracks such as Loch Lomond and Castle Stuart took centre stage, is renowned as a true links test and is the ideal preparation for the season's third major.
Rory McIlroy flies in to head the market at 12.00. Local men Richie Ramsay - 101.00 - and Paul Lawrie - 67.00 - will be keen to put on a show for their fans, while big American names such as Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler are over to fine tune their links games. Phil Mickelson - 23.00 - will be the man from the US the crowds want to see though and he's here to defend the first of two trophies in consecutive weeks after triumph over Branden Grace in a playoff in 2013.
The course - Royal Aberdeen, Balgownie Links
A par 71 playing circa 7,000 yards from the Championship tees, this pure golf links test encompasses a front nine noted by many as one of the best stretches in golf, and winds its way between the dunes of the Aberdeen Coast, while the back nine is played along a distinctive plateau. Fairways are described as tight and rolling and the ever changing North sea shore winds are the biggest defence of the course. Strategically placed pot bunkers line the fairways and surround the greens and gorse lies in wait for the errant. Premium, as usual on the links, will be on controlling your ball flight and keeping it in play as well as a delicate touch around the surfaces, and shot selection. Keep any eye out for the par three 8th - the signature hole, protected by no less than 10 bunkers
Three from the pack
Home favourite Stephen Gallacher started off like a house on fire in France last week. The Scot was flushing every shot and looked like building a substantial lead early on. He stalled somewhat to record a top 20 finish but we may have witnessed the calm before the storm. Stephen has all the attributes and ball striking ability needed for the pure links test that awaits and he's stepped up a gear with a couple of big recent wins in Dubai. A more than respectable T34 in the Masters followed by a top five at Wentworth and T2 in Sweden show how far he's come. He trades at 46.00 or 10.00 the place.
Miguel Angel Jimenez at 61.00 or 13.00 is arguably being overlooked this week. On a short links track, this may be a little hasty. MAJ showed us he's still one of the best around the European Tour - despite hitting the big 50 earlier this season - when finally taking down the Spanish Open after many years of trying and failing. That was on a lengthy PGA Catalunya track that many would think didn't suit. Jimenez opened 67-67 last time out to show the swing is still in good shape.
Branden Grace lost out in a Scottish Open playoff at Castle Stuart to Phil Mickelson last year. The South African has been largely off the radar since and that's due to a stint trying to tackle the PGA Tour. Grace resurfaced in Germany two weeks ago where only a poor third round of 74 - influenced largely by a ridiculous two stroke penalty - cost him a shot at the title. Branden admits he's a streaky player and enjoyed an outing at Hoylake following the BMW International. He visited Wimbledon last week and will be relaxed and raring to go low once more at 71.00 or 15.00 the place.
One man with happy memories of Scotland is Edoardo Molinari 101.00 or 19.00 and he said as much on Twitter this Monday. Edoardo took down two titles in Scotland in 2010 on his way to earning a Ryder Cup berth. He is a former winner of the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and seems to be brimming with confidence. A 2nd place in Ireland was followed by a top 40 in France on a course he declared didn't "fit his eyes" so the Italian may be worth having onside.