The Irishman delivered a pre-event bombshell by claiming the tournament had “lost its stature” by moving to the Highlands and also described the Inverness course as “one-dimensional”.
But, on the back of his comments being dismissed by both Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington, it emerged last night that McDowell had picked up the phone to try and take the heat out of the unfortunate situation.
“Graeme has been in touch to apologise and he’s not the first person to say something they regret, so we’ve got not problems whatsoever with him,” Gilbert told The Scotsman at Castle Stuart.
“In fact, he’s been a true gentleman. He said he’d consider issuing a statement himself, but we agreed that would keep the matter running.
“He was fantastic for taking the time to get in touch and I really admire him for that. He said we should catch up at The Open for a chat and I am really impressed with how he has handled this situation.”
McDowell, a Scottish Open winner at Loch Lomond, said he’d prefer to see the event held on an established links and welcomed the move to Royal Aberdeen in 12 months’ time.
“In fairness to Graeme, he has a point to a certain extent in terms of old and new links courses,” added Gilbert. “So my hope now is that he will play at Royal Aberdeen next year after saying what a great course it is.
“It was interesting to read what Padraig Harrington said about Graeme loving Loch Lomond, but I’m firmly of the view that the Scottish Open should be played on a links course.
“For Scottish golf to be trying to sell itself as a global brand, it would be crazy if we didn’t play this event on a links course.”