Stars do homework before tackling Muirfield exam

The US Open-winning duo of Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose have been familiarising themselves with next week’s British Open host venue at Muirfield.

Both spent Monday and Tuesday playing separate practice rounds, whereas Rose was again out on the east of Edinburgh course yesterday.

While it will be a first Muirfield British Open for McIlroy, Rose participated in the 2002 event, finishing in 22nd place.

Shane Lowry sent caddy Dermot Byrne over to Muirfield on Monday, ahead of today’scommencing Scottish Open at Castle Stuart on the outskirts of Inverness. Byrne walked nine holes with McIlroy and closely studied how the double Major-winning County Down man played the course and then walked the back nine in the company of exciting Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.

And Byrne’s analysis was the same as Darren Clarke’s, who had two recent practice rounds at Muirfield.

“I’ve been there twice this past three weeks and the course is just fantastic,” said Clarke. “The rough is up and the greens are pure and overall it’s just fantastic shape.

“Of course, Royal St Georges is always going to be special but Muirfield is my next favourite as it’s probably the fairest test of all the Open venues.

“That’s simply because the fairways aren’t so undulating. The R&A have overseen some new bunkers and there’s some new tees, but what they’ve done is make the course so much better.”

However, the focus for both Lowry and Clarke this week will be in capturing the Scottish Open.

Phil Mickelson has again travelled to northern Scotland with his young family and has already been sightseeing, including a trip to nearby Culloden, site of the final battle of the Jacobite uprising in 1746.

But as Mickelson also looks to become the first American-born winner of the Scottish Open since Tom Lehman in 1997, he revealed he has five different putting greens in his Californian residence on which to practice.

“Golf is different than basketball as we don’t play on the same hard court every week, so I have different putting greens,” he said.

“I have a beet green, I have a poa annua green, I have a MiniVerde green, I have a Bermuda, and so I have different surfaces to practice on and get ready for up-coming tournaments.”

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