Castle Stuart set to host tournament for another year before ‘showcase’ move
CASTLE Stuart is the “racing favourite” to stage the Scottish Open for a third successive year in 12 months’ time but it seems likely the event could embark on a grand tour round the home of golf after that.
The European Tour has an option for one more year at the Inverness course and chief executive George O’Grady was delighted to see his players properly tested on it for the first time yesterday.
After being taken apart in benign conditions, both in the three rounds that were possible last year due to bad weather and on the first three days again this week, the wind finally blew and scores soared as a consequence.
No decision has yet been made about next year’s venue and O’Grady revealed there was no shortage of courses waiting in the wings to host one of the Tour’s biggest events. He said they were the “usual suspects” and an educated guess would suggest they are likely to be The Renaissance in East Lothian, Royal Aberdeen and Turnberry.
O’Grady has virtually discounted the event going to any of the courses on the Open rota due to the R&A being keen for them to retain their exclusivity when it comes to that event.
However, Turnberry is in a different boat due to it being a resort and bosses at the Ayrshire venue are believed to be keen to see more professional tournaments being staged on the Ailsa Course.
It and Royal Aberdeen could stage the event as early as next year, the latter likely to be a popular choice for the tournament’s current title sponsor, Aberdeen Asset Management, which has its headquarters in the Granite City.
But The Renaissance is out of the reckoning in a year’s time due to the Open Championship being played at Muirfield, meaning the smart money would point to one more year in the Highlands.
After that, though, there’s a chance it would then move about, especially if a partnership between the Tour, the Scottish Government and Aberdeen Asset Management stays in place.
It enabled this year’s event to retain its coveted spot the week before the Open Championship and that deal definitely has two more years to run.
“We’ve agreed we’re not going to do anything in a hurry,” said O’Grady yesterday as he sat beside First Minister Alex Salmond as well as Aberdeen Asset Management chiefs Roger Cornick and Martin Gilbert at Castle Stuart.
“We’ve talked to a lot of players and we have the offer to stay here. It would be the racing favourite. But we’ve had a lot of inquiries from a lot of different clubs in Scotland. We’re going to let the dust settle.
“We don’t need to do anything in a hurry. There’s nothing really to be gained from making an announcement today.
“We had a long meeting on Wednesday and we’re going to think it through.”
Asked if there was possibility of the event being moved around Scotland, he added: “This is the Scottish Open and the deal is to showcase Scotland properly.
“The First Minister has spoken about this showcasing this region of Scotland – there are a lot of regions in Scotland.”
The tournament will definitely stay on a links course for the forseeable future.
“We’re all agreed on that – the logic is unassailable,” said Salmond on that subject.
On this year’s event, he added: “This has been an extraordinary advert for Scotland.
“This event boasts some of the most exceptional views in world golf.
“I’ve had over 30 business meetings with major companies here this week –and significant investment will follow.”
Gilbert said the tournament had been “very successful” for all the partners and added: “It’s important for Scotland that we continue to have this strong golf event,” he added.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east