FORMER winner Graeme McDowell is to make his first Scottish Open appearance in four years when the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event is held at Gullane in two months’ time.
The 2010 US Open champion was a regular when the tournament was played at Loch Lomond, where he recorded his fourth European Tour triumph with a two-shot victory seven years ago. But McDowell didn’t return to Castle Stuart after it staged the event in 2011 at the start of a three-year run in the Highlands, claiming that the event had lost its prestige by moving to the “easy” links near Inverness.
“Aberdeen Asset Management have come in as sponsors and are trying to boost it. But Castle Stuart probably hasn’t been a strong enough course the past couple of years,” he said at the time. “Let’s get the Scottish Open on a phenomenal links course – with a great purse and a world-class field.”
In fairness to McDowell, he called the sponsors during the week of the 2013 event to apologise for his outspoken criticism of the tournament and was praised for doing so by Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management.
“Graeme is not the first person to say something they regret, so we’ve got no problems whatsoever with him,” he said.
“I was really impressed with how he has handled this situation and, in fairness to Graeme, he has a point to a certain extent in terms of old and new links courses.”
McDowell had hoped to make his return to the event at Royal Aberdeen last year but took the week off between making a successful French Open title defence then heading for the Open Championship at Hoylake.
However, one of Europe’s heroes in last year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles is about to confirm his presence at Gullane, where he will be joining a star-studded cast led by world No 1 Rory McIlroy, former winner Phil Mickelson and defending champion Justin Rose.