Scottish Open: Castle Stuart a one-stop shop for fans

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SPECTATORS attending this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart will experience a new tented village design being used for the first time at a European Tour event.

“To give people an idea of what it will be like, it’s similar to the Heathrow Terminal 5 concept in the sense that everything you need is in the one central point,” said championship director Peter Adams. “Instead of having lots of little tents in a U-shape, we’re bringing them all together to create a sort of exhibition in the one big tent, where there will also be a stage for entertainment.

“It will all be undercover, which is something we’ve not really done before, but it isn’t being done due to a weather fear. We just think it will work really well.”

Home duo Alastair Forsyth and George Murray have been added to a field that is being spearheaded by Open champion Ernie Els and world No 8 Phil Mickelson.

“The first year was around the 70,000 mark and last year was slightly less with over 60,000,” said Adams when asked for an estimated crowd prediction. “If we can match last year, I think we’d be very satisfied with that.

“It shows the support that a major sporting event gets when it comes up to the Highlands. Loch Lomond in our best years were just over the 80,000-mark, when we had really good weather. To be as close to that when we’re up here is pretty good going.”

It’s the event’s last of three stagings at Castle Stuart before moving to Royal Aberdeen in a year’s time, with talks set to start soon about what its future holds. It has been suggested that the Scottish Open could embark on a tour around the country.

“What happens after the event goes to Royal Aberdeen next year is open to debate between the Tour, the sponsors and the Scottish Government as the sponsorship contract finishes in 2014,” said Adams as Turkish Airlines joined 15 other companies backing this week’s event.

“We will probably start those conversations at this year’s tournament. They will involve whether or not Aberdeen Asset Management want to continue and also whether the Scottish Government want to continue post-Ryder Cup.”