Aaron Rai defends with Francesco Molinari

Aaron Rai fired a final round 64 before beating Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off to win the first Rolex Series event of his career at last year’s contest at The Renaissance Club.

Aaron Rai, Scottish Open

Now, the Englishman makes his return this week with some recent form, finishing in a tie for 12th at last week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which followed a tie for 28th at the inaugural Scandinavian Mixed.

He gets his first round under way 1.30pm on Thursday alongside 2019 champion Bernd Wiesberger and 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari.

This week’s abrdn Scottish Open follows the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as the second Rolex Series event of the year. The Rolex Series features four premium events spread across key points in the global golfing calendar, each one enhanced by a prize fund of a minimum US$8million.

The tournament makes its return to The Renaissance Club for a fourth consecutive season, although the course setup itself is still relatively new to players, having undergone a number of changes following the record-breaking 2019 edition of the tournament.

And more changes are set to come: Recently, European Ryder Cup Captain Pádraig Harrington has been engaged by Renaissance Club as a ‘player consultant’ who will work with renowned architect Tom Doak on the continued development of the East Lothian golf course.

It will be awarded for the first time at the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin (24-26 September), to the two players (one from the United States and the other from Team Europe) who will best embody the spirit of the event, the “The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon”.

Ryder Cup, The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon

This is the novelty introduced by the PGA of America and the Ryder Cup Europe. With the recipients of the award that will be selected by a committee composed, among others, of Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, other former European and American Ryder Cup captains. For an award that takes its name from the famous “concession” that arrived during the Ryder Cup of 1969. When, in the match between the United States and Great Britain (in 1973 the Great Britain was incorporated into Ireland and from 1979 the rest of Continental Europe), Nicklaus at the Royal Birkdale GC in Southport (England) gave for a good 3-foot putt for Jacklin at the 18th hole, an act of fair play that caused the first draw (16-16) in the history of the competition, with the cup that remained in the hands of the USA as reigning champions.

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