Stuart McColm, general manager, Castle Stuart Golf Links
We are keenly anticipating further announcements on the line-up for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart this summer.
Confirmation that Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell will join local hero Russell Knox at the tournament has provoked worldwide interest and we are confident that many more of the world’s top players will be on the plane to the Highlands come July.
Mickelson, a five-time Major winner, and Stenson, the current world number 5, will renew old rivalries at Castle Stuart. The Swede led by two shots going into the final day in 2013, but it was Mickelson who picked up the trophy after defeating Branden Grace in a play-off. The climax of the tournament reached a worldwide television audience of more than 500 million, including weekend live coverage on NBC USA.
McDowell, winner of the 2010 US Open and 2008 Scottish Open, is another outstanding addition to this year’s field. We are delighted that these high-profile champion golfers have committed to playing at Castle Stuart and we are looking forward to the next set of players confirming their intentions to play.
If they need any encouragement, then history shows that Castle Stuart is the place to come to fine tune your game ahead of The Open the following week.
Phil Mickelson won the double in 2013, collecting The Open title a few days after his success on the Moray Firth and cited his success in the Highlands as a key factor in collecting the claret jug for the first time – ahead of runner-up, Henrik Stenson.
“I’m always excited about returning to Scotland, and particularly to Castle Stuart”, he said. “I believe winning there in 2013 was key to my success the next week at The Open Championship.”
Mickelson was the third successive Open champion who played Castle Stuart in the week prior to lifting the famous trophy, although he was the first to win both titles. Ernie Els in 2012 and Darren Clarke in 2011 also prepared for their Major victories by competing in the Scottish Open here.
Castle Stuart provides a true links experience and the perfect environment to prepare for The Open. Our philosophy is based on ‘playability’ and ‘fun’ and, as Henrik Stenson points out, the course doesn’t ‘beat you up’ as much as an Open Championship venue. However, it does provide a real challenge and can crucially get players in the links mind-set.
Three Open champions took the path to glory via the Highlands and those preparing for Royal Troon this year would be wise to follow in their footsteps.