Exclusive: Rory McIlroy fails in bid to switch Scottish Open

Rory McIlroy wanted the Irish Open and the Scottish Open to swap slots. Picture: David Goldman/AP
Rory McIlroy wanted the Irish Open and the Scottish Open to swap slots. Picture: David Goldman/AP
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The Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open will not be losing its pre-Open Championship slot to the Irish Open next year, despite Rory McIlroy calling for the switch.

With the Open Championship returning to Royal Portrush in 2019, McIlroy said he wanted the Irish Open and Scottish Open to swap slots as a one-off, hinting that he would be prepared to commit to Scottish Open appearances as part of such an agreement.

McIlroy’s Rory Foundation hosts the Irish Open and the Northern Irishman asked Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, to consider moving it next year to the more prestigious pre-Open slot.

“It would be great if the Scottish Open could just switch dates with us for this one year,” McIlroy said.

But in an exclusive interview with Scotland 
on Sunday, Pelley said the switch was a non-starter, meaning the Scottish Open will stay where it is on the schedule for at least the next three years.

“Rory and I discussed that,” said Pelley. “Aberdeen Standard Investments have a contract until 2020 where the date for the Scottish Open is the week before the Open.

“We will live by that contract so the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open will not move in 2019 and 2020. It will stay. It is the best date on our calendar and we will be honouring that contract.

“I said to Rory, ‘if you wanted to talk to [Aberdeen Standard chief executive] Martin Gilbert, then fine’. But it’s not as simple as just switching it. At the end of the day, we have a contract and I can totally understand and certainly respect Aberdeen Standard Investment’s decision to keep the Scottish Open where it is on the schedule.”

The Scottish Open has been held the week before the Open since 1987.

“It’s a date on our schedule that is terrific, attracting a lot of the leading US players coming to the Open,” added Pelley. “In addition, it has coverage on NBC that is also part of the current contract in place for the Scottish Open.”