Cabrera Bello ready to defend Scottish title

Cape Town - Rafa Cabrera Bello is looking forward to another warm Scottish welcome at Gullane Golf Club as he defends his Scottish Open title from Thursday.

The Spaniard shot a stunning course record 64 in the final round to force a play-off against Callum Shinkwin at Dundonald Links last year, where he prevailed to win his third European Tour title and his first on the Rolex Series.

"I've never defended a title. It's got to be a good feeling. It's going to be a different feeling because I'm not on the same course that I was last year, so I cannot draw off those memories particularly on the course, but I will draw off the atmosphere and on the crowd that was very supportive last time - well, actually, every single year. So hopefully that will get me in my best performance," said Cabrera Bello.

"Obviously last year was fantastic. That Sunday was very special, shooting 64, course record, getting myself into the playoff and then hitting that great shot in for the eagle chance."

The current world No 25 followed up that famous victory - his first title for more than five years - with a tied fourth place finish in the Open Championship, and he is aiming for another positive fortnight on the links as he heads to Carnoustie straight from his title defence on Scotland's Golf Coast this week.

"I love playing links golf. Obviously Scottish Open and The Open, they are a great links test. It's hard to plan the schedule so that you know when you're going to peak, but obviously last year, I was very, very pleased that I peaked right about this time, and this year, I'm hoping the same thing happens," said Cabrera Bello.

"Of course, I drank out of the trophy. Yeah, I actually had whisky. I didn't drink too much because I have just a small tournament coming up the following week, so I couldn't let myself go, but I did celebrate nicely. I drank whisky the following week after the Open. I think I Tweeted about it, celebrating The Scottish Open the right way."

Meanwhile, homegrown talent Connor Syme is making his first professional appearance both at the Scottish Open and at Gullane.

The 23-year-old is enjoying his first season on the European Tour and is aiming to build on a second place finish at the Shot Clock Masters in Austria last month as he makes his third Rolex Series appearance in a row following the Open de France and Irish Open.

A stellar field is teeing it up this week for the 36th edition of Scotland's national open, including world No 3 and 2014 winner Justin Rose, five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and his fellow Americans in Masters winner Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler, who claimed the Scottish Open title the last time Gullane hosted the event in 2015.