European Tour

Els eyes 4th Scottish victory

Ernie Els (Gallo)
Ernie Els (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Ernie Els has a fourth victory in Scotland locked in his sights as he heads to Castle Stuart Golf Links for the Scottish Open starting on Thursday.

Els has won two Scottish Open titles and claimed his third major at Muirfield - the venue for next week's British Open - last season, and

"Everyone who knows me knows that I love playing golf in Scotland, and especially links golf, so it's exciting returning to Castle Stuart for this week's Scottish Open," Els said on his website.

"I've won three times in Scotland during my career - two Scottish Opens and an Open Championship - and the fans are always so good to me."

Els said he enjoyed playing in front of the knowledgeable galleries in Scotland.

"They really know their golf, so if we can get some decent weather we should be in for a great week."

He said the course at Castle Stuart would be the perfect tune-up for his title defence at the Open.

"Genuine new links courses don't come along very often, especially ones as good as Castle Stuart.

"It is an outstanding layout, a great test of golf and a beautiful setting.

In 2011 and 2012, although there was not much wind at the time, there was a lot of rain around which made the ground relatively soft.

"It wasn't quite the pure links test we'd expected but hopefully this time mother nature will be a little kinder to us.

"From the forecast, it looks like we might be in for a dry week with a bit of sun."

Links golf promotes a lower ball flight to combat high winds, and hard surfaces mean more run has to be allowed on each shot -- something vastly different from the parkland layout played more often during the season.

"Naturally, a lot of the players will be excited about the prospect of playing some links golf for back-to-back weeks and I'm certainly looking forward to it.

"This style of golf never fails to excite me and it also seems to bring out the best in me.

"My record of top-10s in the Open very much reflects that. It suits my eye and I think the fact that you have to use your imagination and be creative with your shot-making is good for my overall mindset."

Els will be joined in the field by fellow South Africans Branden Grace, Richard Sterne, Thomas Aiken, Jbe' Kruger, Darren Fichardt, Jaco van Zyl, Garth Mulroy, Henni Otto, Keith Horne and Justin Walters.

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