Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Standard Investments chairman, reflects on the recent success of the Scottish Open
This is the eighth Scottish Open under the Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) banner and it’s been a great fit for us as a company. Did I see it becoming as big as it now is when we first got involved? No, not really, though we obviously hoped it would.
We always had an inkling that by moving the event to a links course, it might resonate and, as lot of people know, six of the last nine Open winners have played in the Scottish Open the week before, so there is certainly some evidence that it is going to help improve your score by a stroke or two.
Everyone wants strong national Opens and I was actually struck when Rory McIlroy won the Canadian Open recently and the guy presenting him with the prize said, ‘this is your sixth national Open’.
It would be great if someone like him could win at the Renaissance Club this year or a Scottish player. I have always had a soft spot for both Paul Lawrie and Marc Warren and I would love to see Marc make a return to form and win the ASI Scottish Open after going close a few times in recent years.
Golf, of course, is one of the few sports you can play with the leading players. You can’t get in a rowing boat with top rowers, for instance, and there’s no point playing tennis against Andy Murray. It’s just not going to work.
But you can be out on the same golf course with top golfers and that’s why the Scottish Open Pro-Am is such a special event and everyone is looking forward to the event’s first visit to a new venue this year, the Renaissance Club.
It’s no secret that I love golf and it is always a thrill to get a chance to watch some of the top players in the world.
We’ve seen some extraordinary golf in the years we’ve been involved, including Phil Mickelson’s shot in the play-off to beat Branden Grace at Castle Stuart in 2013, then last year Brandon Stone having a putt for a 59 in the final round at Gullane.
I also enjoyed watching Rickie Fowler win there in 2015 and him hitting a great shot in at the last.
It’s great that we have the likes of Rory, Rickie and Justin Thomas in the field this year. Rory is an incredible player and fantastic driver of the golf ball. He is amazing to watch and we are also incredibly excited about Justin making his debut. We are lucky as there is a huge amount of talent on display.
That includes some exciting young Scottish players and, having supported the national body, Scottish Golf, for a number of years, we are delighted about that.
We need to see that younger Scottish talent coming through, so it has been fantastic that the likes of David Law and Bob MacIntyre, for instance, have been doing well on the European Tour this season.
I have known David for many, many years and he is an extremely talented player, as he showed when winning the Vic Open earlier in the year.
Bob, another of our golfing ambassadors, has also been phenomenal this season, finishing runner-up twice at the age of 22, and it is great that they see how much they are appreciated and how much support they have here in Scotland.
We are extremely proud that the ASI Scottish Open is the only event on the European Tour, apart from The Open, that is broadcast live on terrestrial TV in the United States.
America is a very important market for asset management as it still has more than half the world’s wealth, so brand awareness in the US is important for us.
It makes a massive difference getting the event live on TV in the US and, of course, there is a big market for ladies’ golf in Asia.
In fact, in some countries the audience for that is bigger than for the men’s game so, again, that is a very important market for us.
As a company, we are very keen to promote diversity and we are especially pleased that the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open has taken off the way it has.
For the third year running – and admission is free for all spectators that week – it is being held at the same venue as the men’s event as we are trying to make it become as big and grow into another massive Scottish sporting spectacle.