Rory McIlroy: Renaissance Club is a wonderful Scottish Open venue
Rory McIlroy, who branded The Renaissance Club as “too easy” on his first visit, is disappointed that another benign test looks to be on the cards in this week’s abrdn Scottish Open, but the four-time major winner believes the East Lothian venue will be allowed by Mother Nature to show its true face eventually.
According to Grant Forrest, who plays and practises at The Renaissance Club when he’s at home in nearby Haddington, the Tom Doak-designed course was as “hard as a car park” and the “fairways were yellow” before he left to play in the BMW International Open in Germany just over a fortnight ago.
That was still the case until a recent dry spell came to an abrupt end as flash flooding hit the Edinburgh area at the weekend and, following more rain on Monday and Tuesday, the sting has been well and truly taken out of it for a third straight staging of the Rolex Series event at the American-owned venue.
As was the case when he was tuning up for the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush, it’s not the test McIlroy was ideally looking for ahead of next week’s Claret Jug event at Royal St George’s, especially after adding the Scottish Open to his schedule just before the entries closed.
However, the world No 11 is taking it on the chin on this occasion and believes the challenge in an event also featuring new US Open champion Jon Rahm will still be more difficult than it was two years ago, when the winning total was 22-under-par.
“Yeah, it would have been great to play it fast and firm, but it's just so out of anyone's control,” said McIlroy of the meteorological impact on the event. “You can't control what the weather does, and this is a wonderful week to have the Scottish Open and it's actually a wonderful venue.
“Everything is so easy. I'm staying in the clubhouse this week and the gym's right here and the practice facilities. With one eye towards next week, as well, it's great to spend a week and work on your game and play.
“I feel bad the weather hasn't cooperated the last couple of editions, but I'd say the longer the tournament stays here, if it does stay here, the more chance the course will be the way everyone wants it to be.”
The course has dramatically changed visually from McIlroy’s last visit due to a large number of trees having been removed, while the winning total in the 2020 edition, which saw Aaron Rai beat Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off, was just 11-under.
“It's obviously soft just from all the rain the last couple of days. But it's a good test,” added McIlroy. “It's a bit longer. The rough's up a bit more than it probably was last time.
“I think with benign conditions like this and with it being soft, the scoring is still going to be pretty good. But maybe players might just get punished a little more for wayward shots, which is sort of what you're looking for.
“You're looking for at least having to stand up and hit some good golf shots and you want to be challenged a little bit. I think the set up this week is pretty good.”