Murcar Links will stage the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play for the second year running next August after organisers resisted what might have been a possible temptation to move the event away from the Aberdeen area, writes Martin Dempster.
Remaining as a 64-man field with a straight knock-out format, as was the case when Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat became its inaugural winner in August, the 2016 event will be played from 4-7 August – a week later on the European Tour schedule. “I’m delighted to see the event returning to Murcar Links again next year,” said Lawrie, who understandably felt immense pride to see his name attached to an event on the world’s second biggest golf circuit. “The course was in fantastic condition for the inaugural event and the feedback from the players on the venue and format has been very positive.”
The Aberdonian, who persuaded former Open champion John Daly to take up an invitation, added: “We all thought the course set up perfectly for match play and we saw some exciting golf being played this year, so it’s great to give the players another shot on this fantastic course.”
If there was one disappointment, it would surely have been an attendance of 11,000 over five days, though, in fairness to the paying public, the event came hot on the heels of two other big events on the east coast – the Scottish Open at Gullane followed by an Open Championship at St Andrews.
Entry for under-18s will again be free and both Mike Loggie, CEO of Saltire Energy, and European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley are delighted to see the event returning to Murcar Links.
“Saltire Energy is passionate about supporting the local community within which we operate, and this again provides an opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic sporting facilities in Aberdeen, City and Shire,” said Loggie.
Pelley added: “Last year’s tournament concluded the day before I took office officially and I vividly remember my first day at Wentworth people talking to me about the excitement of the tournament, which had just finished in Aberdeen.
“We are always looking to be innovative on the European Tour and a pure knock-out match play tournament certainly fits that bill. Paul is one of our most respected members and I want to thank him personally for the effort he has put into this tournament, alongside sponsors Saltire Energy and everyone at Murcar Links Golf Club.”