STEVEN O'HARA reckons a 13-year wait for a home winner in the Scottish Open could end this weekend – thanks to the wet and windy weather.
Colin Montgomerie was the last Scot to win the flagship event when he prevailed at Loch Lomond way back in 1999.
But O'Hara, who will tee off in the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event tomorrow, thinks that could change come Sunday evening.
The Bellshill golfer believes several of his countrymen are playing well enough to have a chance at claiming the £416,000 first prize.
In addition, more adverse weather conditions are being predicted for Castle Stuart in the days ahead by the Met Office.
The £2.5million event, being staged just outside Inverness for the second time, was a washout last year and was reduced to 54 holes.
And European Tour pro O'Hara reckons more heavy rain and howling winds will favour the likes of Stephen Gallacher, Paul Lawrie and Marc Warren.
"The forecast isn't too good, but the Scots guys are used to the wind in the rain so hopefully it will work in our favour," he said.
"Castle Stuart is one of those courses that suits the Scottish boys. It is similar to the courses we grew up on. We played all our big tournaments on links courses.
"It is not a surprise to see Scots like Scott Jamieson and Peter Whiteford do well last week. I think the Scots will be favourites this week.
"Stephen Gallacher is playing really well, Scott Jamieson was third last year and Marc Warren was in good form in France last week.
"I am playing really well too and I am starting to putt a bit better. With a bit of home support, you never know what will happen."
O'Hara is, like many players in the star-studded international field here, using the Scottish Open as preparation for The Open next week.
The 31-year-old booked his spot at Royal Lytham and St Annes via Local Final Qualifying at West Lancashire last week. He is confident competing on the magnificent Gil Hanse/Mark Parsinen- designed track on the Moray Firth will help him perform in Lancashire.
The former Walker Cup star from Colville Park also feels the tournament will be an ideal springboard for his Claret Jug aspirations.
He said: "I got in through my tour ranking. I was fourth reserve and was delighted to qualify. This is a massive event for a Scot to play in, our national open.
"It is a great course, there is good prize money and it is a good warm-up for next week. It is better than sitting in the house, that is for sure. It is tremendous. I played last year and didn't get on too well.
"I am hoping for better this year. I am certainly hitting the ball well.
"Obviously, this is a massive tournament, but I seem to play better when I treat an event as a practice round.
"I always play really well in practice. Unfortunately, sometimes in tournaments I get a wee bit uptight.
"It is actually good that I can use this as a practice for next week. Hopefully, I will be a bit more relaxed this week. I think I will play better as a result.
"Every time I stand up in a practice round I seem to play great. I swing the club a lot freer.
"It is a massive tournament and it might be hard to have that attitude, but I will be trying to."
O'Hara added: "The chipping and putting around the greens in the Scottish Open will be the same as next week at The Open.
"We will have a lot of long putts out here on these greens this week. It will be exactly the same next week.
"It will also be good for my sharpness from 50 or 60 yards out. It will help me get used to seeing the ball run out a bit, it isn't just target golf.
"The bunkers are the same here. They are deep pot bunkers at Castle Stuart, and there will be plenty of bunkers on the course at Lytham."
O'Hara is optimistic having kid brother Paul, the former Scotland amateur internationalist who is now a professional, to help his title challenge.
He said: "My wee brother is going to caddy for me. He is a pro and has got nothing on just now. He is great on the bag, is good at reading the greens. As a pro, he knows what shots to hit. Plus, he is a good laugh.
"A lot of caddies have handicaps of 24. You wouldn't listen to a normal 24-handicap golfer down at your course. But I will listen to what he says.
"The fact he's a pro is definitely a big help. He plays on the EPD Tour in Germany. He is a great player. He probably hits it better than me!"