Headed by England's high-ranking Justin Rose, the World No 3, and the US's Rickie Fowler, the World No 7, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open has attracted a powerful international field for its return visit to the Gullane links in East Lothian where golf has been played for more than 350 years.
Almost certainly because six of the last eight Open Championship winners have played in the Scottish Open in the preceding week, a host of leading Americans golfers are in the field this week alongside Fowler, the dramatic winner in 2015 when Gullane hosted its first and only Scottish Open until now.
Along with Fowler, they include the reigning Masters Champion and World No 13 Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson, who in 2013 became the first golfer ever to win the Scottish Open and The Open Championship in successive weeks when he followed his victory at Castle Stuart with his fifth Major triumph in The Open at Muirfield and who now, at 48, remains in the World's top 20 (at 20th).
Other Americans in this week's field are the seasoned Matt Kuchar and Charley Hoffman, Peter Uihlein, Kevin Chappell, Luke List, Harold Varner III, Julian Suri, David Lipsky, Daniel Im and Chase Koepka, younger brother of reigning US Open champion Brooks Koepke.
As the third successive Rolex Series event leading up to next week's Open, The Scottish Open, like the Irish Open last week and the Open de France in the week before that comes with a prize fund of $7 million, a first prize of more than a million dollars and 1.5 times the usual Ryder Cup points on offer so clearly, along with Rose, the event has also attracted a number of Europe's other leading players.
Not the least of these are Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello, the defending champion (he won it in some fierce winds at the Dundonald Links last year), Scotland's hot home favourite Russel Knox who on Sunday sank two stunning monster putts to win the Irish Open after finishing second in France the week before, and Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Andy Sullivan, Chis Wood and Ross Fisher.
Also in the field is Japan's World No 16, Hideki Matsuyama, South Africa's former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and China's Haotong Li.
Gullane has three links courses and this week's Scottish Open is going to be played across two of them so that play will start and finish in the village.
This will make it a par 70 for 7,133 yards with just two par fives and a rather uneven split of 3,416 yards going out and 3,717 yards coming in.
It was coming in where Fowler so dramatically swung the game his way in 2015 by picking up birdies at the 15th, 16th, and 18th holes to beat compatriot Kuchar and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin by a shot.
And with the kind of field he is up against this week in what you might call his Gullane defence and this on an undulating course where long, downhill sweeps and hard, fast fairways often see the ball travel prodigious distances, too often into patches of long rough or pot hole bunkers, we can expect some more golfing drama this weekend.
GolfWeather.com has forecast some light rain for most of Friday, for mid-afternoon on Saturday and again late on Sunday so bring your waterproofs, but the wind which can have plenty of teeth at Gullane, is not expected to get up much above about 16 mph on any day this time and should not be as much of a problem as it has been on some other Scottish Open venues.
The winner? I believe that if Rose, Fowler, Reed, Kuchar, Knox, Cabrera Bello and Tyrrell all bring their A games to Gullane, they could be among the ones up there fighting for victory when the front runners come down the closing stretch on Sunday.
But judged on the way big-hitting Kiwi Ryan Fox played in the Irish Open last week when a missed putt from 10 feet at the 72nd was all that cost him the title, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him right up there with them or, perhaps, even a shade in front.
And never forget Mickelson.
(Tuesday a.m. July 10, 2018)
Justin Rose 10/1
Rickie Fowler 10/1
Patrick Reed 18/1
Tyrrell Hatton 18/1
Russell Knox 22/1
Hideki Matsuyama 20/1
Matt Kuchar 22/1
Andy Sullivan 22/1
Ian Poulter 22/1
Louis Oosthuizen 25/1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 25/1
Phil Mickelson 28/1
Chris Wood 45/1
Ryan Fox 50/1
Paul Dunne 55/1
Jorge Campillo 55/1
Peter Uihlein 55/1
Charley Hoffman 60/1
Ross Fisher 60/1
Haotong Li 66/1.
NOTE: For all the latest odds, go to www.oddschecker.com/golf/aberdeen-standard-investments-scottish-open/winner.
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