Exclusive: Gullane to stage 2018 Scottish Opens

Rickie Fowler with the Scottish Open trophy after his 2015 triumph. Picture: Jane Barlow
Rickie Fowler with the Scottish Open trophy after his 2015 triumph. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Gullane is set to stage both the men’s and women’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open next year, replicating the ground-breaking double-header being staged at Dundonald Links this summer.

An announcement made today confirmed the exciting prospect for the East Lothian venue as it plays host to top players in the men’s and women’s games in the space of just three weeks.
The men’s Scottish Open will be held on July 12-15, with the women’s event being played over the same course from July 26-29.

Both events will precede the respective Open Championships, with Carnoustie staging the men’s event next year while the women’s tournament takes place at Royal Lytham.

It will be a second visit to Gullane for the men’s event after American Rickie Fowler, helped by a wonder shot at the 72nd hole, claimed what was a popular victory on a composite course on Scotland’s Golf Coast in 2015.

That tournament attracted a star-studded field, including Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker and Justin Rose, and it could even be stronger next year now that the Scottish Open is part of the European Tour’s mega-money Rolex Series.

The Ladies Scottish Open has also seen its status elevated on the back of it becoming co-sanctioned with the LPGA, a three-year deal seeing its prize fund tripled from £428,000 to £1.2m - the biggest on the LET outside the majors.

It means the event at Gullane would attract a much stronger field than it did when the tournament was staged, successfully so, for five years at another East Lothian venue, Archerfield Links, before moving to Dundonald Links in Ayrshire in 2015.

Gullane was selected ahead of the nearby Renaissance Club when it staged a European Tour event for the first time two years ago and didn’t disappoint, proving a hit as a new Scottish Open venue with players and spectators alike.

“We had a great tournament with a great winner in Rickie at Gullane in 2015 and we anticipate equally worthy winners of the men’s and ladies editions this year at Dundonald,” said Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive Martin Gilbert.

“Both events are amongst the most-highly regarded on their respective Tours and have become sought after fixtures ahead of both the men’s and ladies ‘Open Championships.’

“Gullane is a spectacular course and together with our tournament partners we will continue to host our events at the best possible venues which showcase Scotland in all its glory to an ever increasing global TV audience.”

Gullane captain Willie Biggart described the announcement as “great news” for the East Lothian club.

“At Gullane, we are well placed to be able to deliver a top-class championship venue which is in touch with all the requirements of the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour in the 21st Century.

“The course offers classic links golf with perfect seaside lies on our fairways, fast-running greens and challenging bunker positions.

“The course will once again provide a true links challenge that will be enjoyed by the world’s golfing elite.

“We look forward to welcoming both events to the club and wish them both a fantastic week of golf.”

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley added: “We’re delighted to be returning to Gullane Golf Club next year, at an exciting time in the history of the tournament.

“As we return to this wonderful setting we know that we can expect enthusiastic support from Gullane Golf Club, the golf community in East Lothian and our partners and stakeholders, as we plan for another exciting festival of golf.”

In anticipation of the double-header, some changes have been carried out since 2015 by leading course architects Mackenzie & Ebert, the same company that has transformed the Ailsa Course at Turnberry into a spectacular test of golf and was also used by Royal Portrush to revamp it for the 2019 Open Championship.

Fowler birdied three of the last four holes as he closed with a 68 for a 12-under-par 268 total, winning by a shot from fellow American Kuchar and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin. Marc Warren finished as leading Scot in a tie for fourth, a shot further back.