Paul Lawrie rates Scottish Open next to Open victory

Scottish golfer Paul Lawrie
Lawrie won the 1999 Open Championship after a three-way play-off

Scottish golfer Paul Lawrie has rated victory in the Scottish Open as second only to becoming Open champion itself.

Lawrie, who lifted the Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1999, was speaking ahead of Castle Stuart's first Scottish Open.

And, after claiming his first trophy in nine years at the Andalucian Open, he is keen to win a competition close to his heart.

"I think I've always said that if I was allowed one more win it would be this tournament," he said.

"Yes I would like another Open - who wouldn't? But if you were not going to get another Open the Scottish Open would be next. It would be huge for me."

Lawrie is joined at the Inverness course by Arizona-based fellow Scot Martin Laird, who has been grilled by fellow golfers in his adopted country about the new course.

"I got a lot of questions from guys the last few months," he said.

"I told them I've not been here, but heard it's great.

"Links golf is so different than the typical American-style golf. If you haven't played on it for a while it does take you a little time to get used to it and get your feel back around the greens and stuff."

Italy's Edoardo Molinari is defending the title he won at the last Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, and he is viewing this year's competition as ideal preparation for this year's Open at Sandwich.

"It's going to be playing very firm, and it's going to be windy and possibly it's going to rain," said Molinari.

"You can't have a better preparation for the Open Championship other than playing here."

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