When the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open tees off in two weeks, former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell will not be in the field for the second year in a row. According to the Ulsterman, the course on which the tournament is staged is a key factor in his absence.
'The Scottish Open has lost its identity and its prestige,' McDowell explained to the Scottish Sun. 'Castle Stuart probably has not been a strong enough golf course.'
After 15 years at Loch Lomond Golf Club, the event shifted to Castle Stuart Golf Links in 2011 with an eye on offering players a links venue as better preparation for the British Open, which the Scottish Open traditionally precedes. McDowell played in the tournament's first staging at Castle Stuart, tying for 42nd during a rain-soaked week that saw the event shortened to 54 holes, but has not been back since.
'I feel bad singling out the Scottish Open, because I used to love it at Loch Lomond. It was a phenomenal tournament,' said McDowell, who won the event at its previous location in 2008. '(Castle Stuart) is a beautiful venue – but it is probably a little too wide open off the tee and a little one-dimensional.'
After this year's event, where Jeev Milkha Singh will return to defend his title against a field that will include Phil Mickelson, the Scottish Open will again shift venues, this time from Castle Stuart to Royal Aberdeen. According to McDowell, the change of scenery might be enough to spark his return to the field.
'Royal Aberdeen next year is a venue which attracts me,' he added. 'I've heard great things about it and it could re-light the event.'