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Stephen Gallacher: Rory McIlroy will be hoping history repeats itself with Scottish Open appearance

Rory has Hoylake on his mind after confirming his place at The Renaissance Club.

Rory McIlroy is heading to Scotland in July. Image: PA
Rory McIlroy is heading to Scotland in July. Image: PA

I imagine Rory McIlroy is hoping history will repeat itself after confirming he will return to the Scottish Open in July.

He’s a box office talent and in this, a Ryder Cup year, to have him playing in Scotland is fantastic.

Rory and many of the leading players tend to chop and change their minds about whether to play in the event.

But I think there may be an element of superstition at play here as far as Rory is concerned.

When he won the Open at Hoylake in 2014 he played the Scottish Open the previous week at Royal Aberdeen.

It’s no coincidence to me that with the Open once again at Hoylake this summer Rory is looking for all the good omens he can find.

I know I would be doing the same if I was in his shoes.

It’s the curse of being a golfer. When you win a tournament you always try to emulate everything you did whether it was the preparation, the equipment, your schedule.

Some people even try to wear the same clothing if they can.

Do what feels best I say.

Scottish Open remains great preparation for the Open

Phil Mickelson won both the Scottish Open and the Open in 2013.

Tiger Woods preferred to practise on links courses away from the glare of the world’s media while Tom Watson would regularly go to Ireland to prepare the week before the Open.

Some like to ease their way into the Open while others feel they need to be playing so always play in our event.

I think both Phil Mickelson and Collin Morikawa have done much to change people’s minds about playing back-to-back.

Mickelson is the only man to win both consecutively, having won both tournaments in 2013.

Morikawa did not win the Scottish Open in 2021 but he believes the test he faced that week was vital preparation for him winning the Open a week later.

The event’s status as one of three tournaments co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour also helps attract the leading players and already we’re seeing some top-tier talent including current world number one Scottie Scheffler, US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and defending champion Xander Schauffele.

Fans are the real winners

This year will be Rory’s eighth appearance in the Scottish Open and it’s great to have him back after he opted out of playing last year to prepare for the 150th Open at St Andrews.

His decision to take part at The Renaissance Club is terrific news for everyone involved but most importantly the fans.

We don’t have the Open in Scotland this year so the Scottish Open will be the premier event as far as fans of men’s golf are concerned so the chance to see Rory in action is one I’m sure many will be excited about.

Larrazabal must be in the frame for Rome

Pablo Larrazabal is in red-hot form.

We must be pretty close to having Pablo Larrazabal’s name on Europe captain Luke Donald’s list for the Ryder Cup in Rome by this point.

Pablo was in fantastic form again as he claimed the KLM Open title on Sunday.

It was the ninth tour title of his career, his fourth in the last 14 months and his second in the last four weeks.

That’s the form of a serial winner and a man Luke will find hard to ignore.

The six captain’s picks this year is a huge difference, and an important asset for the captain.

Previously, only three picks meant the captain had less leeway, but now the six picks gives Luke more freedom.

The flipside is that it’s so hard to qualify automatically now.

I would imagine Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland have all but secured three of the automatic spots already.

The way he is going Pablo could join them soon.

Fans would lap up Pablo the showman

I’d love to see him in the team for Rome. He’s a throwback to Seve Ballesteros in how he plays with his heart on his sleeve.

A proper showman, a born entertainer, and a terrific golfer on top of that, his panache would go down a storm among the fans in Italy if he is representing Europe against the United States.

Pablo had a terrific week in the Netherlands but it was a good week for two Scots too in Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest, who both finished tied for eighth place.

Grant has been in great form this year and Ewen is hitting his stride too after claiming three top-10 finishes in his last five appearances.

As we head into the business part of the season both guys will be worth keeping an eye on.

An expensive penny spent by Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington had an eventful week at the Senior PGA Championship. Image: PA

The need to spend a penny cost Padraig Harrington dear in the Senior PGA Championship at the weekend.

Padraig was in a great position as he held a three-shot lead with three holes to play of his third round when nature called.

A quick trip to the toilet ended with the door being locked and Padraig eventually getting the door open to use the facility, taking longer as you do as senior, and then rushing back down to the fairway to hit his shot.

Padraig, by his own admission, lost his focus and a double-bogey whittled that lead down to one.

By Sunday he ended up in a play-off and lost out to Steve Stricker.

It has to be the most un-Padraig like story I’ve ever heard.

He is as meticulous as they come and if he has 55 seconds to play a shot he will take 54.

An emotional win for proud dad Stricker

Congratulations to the new champion though and it was an emotional win for Stricker who had his daughter Izzi on his bag.

It’s special when you have a son or daughter as your caddie as I know all too well with my son Jack alongside me.

There is the pride of winning of course, but also having your children see you win and being able to share in that success by your side.

Stewart Cink has experienced too with his son Reagan on his bag. It’s quite the feeling.