Gearing Up for the Open Championship


2006 Barclays Scottish OpenOn the eve of the 135th Open Championship, a star-studded field assembles for the Barclays Scottish Open at famed Loch Lomond Golf Club.
It will be the 11th straight time in the events history that it is being played at Loch Lomond and its roll call of past champions is thoroughly impressive.
Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjorn and Ryder Cup captains Tom Lehman and Ian Woosnam all have tasted victory in this event and all will be in the field again this week.
But that is just a hint of the talent that will be teeing it up this week, as rounding out the big names are the likes of Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Fred Couples, Ian Poulter, Darren Clarke, Tim Clark and current Order of Merit leader David Howell. In all, eight of the top-20 ranked players in the world are represented.
For Els, who has slipped in the world rankings from a high point at No. 2 down to the eighth spot, he hopes coming back to the place where he is a two-time winner - the 2000 and 2003 champion - will spark what has thus far been a lackluster season.
It is a very special place and The Barclays Scottish Open is a fantastic tournament - as twice crowned champion it holds great memories for me and I always look forward to playing,' said Els.
A record-holder for most wins in this event with three, captain Woosnam will be gunning for his fourth but more than likely will have an eye on his potential Ryder Cup team. And he has got to be pleased already as for one of the few times in the history of the event, the European side looks perhaps to be the better team - at least on paper.
Only four Americans currently reside in the top-20 of the world rankings, whereas the Europeans can boast of seven players inside the top 20. Montgomerie, the unofficial leader of the team, will again be a focal point when the teams gather at the K Club this fall. And despite some major and minor disappointments, the Scotsman is playing some of his best golf in years.
The winner in here in 1999, Monty posted five straight top-10s at Loch Lomond from 1996 through 2000 but hasn't cracked the top-10 since.
Defending champion Clark returns to the place where he has had an uncanny amount of success. Before winning last season, the diminutive South African had already posted a third-place and fifth-place finish at the event in just three outings.
Last year, Clark fired a final-round 4-under 67 to hold off Clarke for the title.
An interesting side story is that of Scotland's own Sam Torrance, who will become the first player in the history of the European Tour to make 700 starts. It comes 35 years after his maiden event at the Agfa-Gevaert tournament.
Players will be playing for a purse of $3,500,645, with $602,962 going to the winner.
The Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds live beginning Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET.
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