GLENEAGLES will almost certainly be missing from the European Tour schedule for the first time in 17 years when the 2015 diary is confirmed in full this weekend.
The Scotsman understands that a potential Johnnie Walker-sponsored event had been provisionally included on the fixture list as talks took place in the wake of the Perthshire resort staging a hugely-successful Ryder Cup in September.
However, it seems that it will now be 2016 at the earliest before the spotlight turns back on Gleneagles as officials have not yet determined a new strategy for tournament golf there and don’t want to be rushed into making that decision. It had been hinted during the Ryder Cup that a World Golf Championship – Scotland hasn’t staged one of those to date – might be a possibility, although that was quickly played down at the time.
“We did have meetings about Gleneagles, sitting down and speaking to the CEO of Diageo [Ivan Menezes] and with the First Minister [Alex Salmond],” confirmed European Tour chief executive George O’Grady. “The Tour wants to be at Gleneagles and Gleneagles want to be associated with the Tour. It’s a natural fit and we’re looking at things.”
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The Bell’s Scottish Open was staged on the King’s Course from 1987 to 1994, during which time the title was won twice by Ian Woosnam.
The Tour then returned to Gleneagles in 1999, since when the PGA Centenary Course has hosted a tournament that was initially called the Scottish PGA Championship but eventually became the Johnnie Walker Championship.
It has been won by the likes of Adam Scott and Paul Casey (twice), with both Marc Warren and Paul Lawrie having also delighted the home galleries by claiming that title in 2007 and 2012 respectively.
Won last year by Tommy Fleetwood, it wasn’t held this season due to the Ryder Cup and now one of the most popular venues on Tour seems as though it will be missing altogether next year.
“I think it has got to be something really special at Gleneagles,” added O’Grady, who recently announced he’d be stepping down as Tour chief once a successor is found. “We have got a quite exciting concept, but it’s too early to say anything concrete. They will need to take stock and we have agreed to keep the dialogue open.”
The schedule, which will be unveiled on Sunday during the last round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, will definitely include four Scottish stops. It follows the new Paul Lawrie Saltire Energy Match Play at Murcar being added to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Gullane, the Open Championship at St Andrews and the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
It was announced recently, of course, that the future of the Scottish Open is secure until 2020 and O’Grady is hopeful that the Dunhill Links will be around for a long time to come, too. “We gave [Dunhill supremo] Johann Rupert a presentation at St Andrews on the Saturday this year and we’re solid,” he said of that event. “He’s signed up the courses.”
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