Graeme McDowell picked up the phone to agologise to Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive Martin Gilbert over his criticism of both the Scottish Open and Castle Stuart.
Martin Dempster in The Scotsman reveals:
“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 was asked at the Irish Open about that event’s stature and the possibility of attracting a stronger field in future. But in attempting to explain that the European Tour needs to do more to attract the top players to Europe at certain times of the year, suggesting a links swing through Ireland and Scotland near The Open, he inadvertently landed himself in hot water with the Scottish Open and Castle Stuart.
Speaking at Carton House, he said:
“We sat down briefly at Wentworth, ten, 15 players, ten, 15 top players, and we started to talk about how we do it, how we put together a swing. You look at the PGA TOUR, the way they collect their events together with your West Coast and your Floridas and your Texas swings and these little kind of geographical bundles that they put together. I think we have to capitalise on the key parts of our schedule in and around Wentworth, in and around The Open and after the FedEx Playoffs….”
McDowell then added, bluntly:
“Obviously The Open, to me, no disrespect to the Scottish Open, I won it in 2008; I love that event. It’s lost its prestige. Aberdeen Asset Management have come in there and really tried to boost it. Castle Stuart probably has not been a strong enough golf course the last couple years. Let’s see them get the Scottish Open on a phenomenal links golf course with a great purse and get a world‑class field back there.
“I feel bad that I’m singling out The Scottish Open. Like I say, I won The Scottish Open. I used to love the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond. Even though it wasn’t ideal preparation for The Open Championship, Loch Lomond is a very unique venue. On a Sunday afternoon, there’s nothing quite like those last three or four holes around the Loch. It was a phenomenal golf tournament.
“Taking it to Castle Stuart was a move designed to try and get it on a links golf course the week before The Open championship. Castle Stuart is a beautiful venue. Golf course was probably a little bit too wide open off the tee and a little bit too one‑dimensional really. Wasn’t enough of a test pre The Open Championship. The year I played, in fairness, it was the year we got shortened to three rounds due to monsoons in Scotland; that happens often.
“Like I say, Aberdeen Asset Management really came in and tried to rescue the event, and Royal Aberdeen next year is a venue which attracts me. I’m already looking at that as a potential week that I’ll play next year.”
While no-one would claim that Castle Stuart is even close to being the best links course it Scotland - it only opened in 2009 - McDowell’s comments have gone down like a lead balloon.
Paul Lawrie, Pádraig Harrington and Ernie Els jumped to the course’s defence with the Dubliner suggesting that the wide open spaces of a big course like Castle Stuart were hardly conduive to McDowell’s straight-hitting style.
it’s little wonder he has bad memories of Castle Stuart after his debut in the weather-plagued first visit to Inverness in 2011.
He was joint leader with a round to go but saw his chances wrecked by putting two balls in the gorse on the long 12th and running up a quadruple bogey nine.
Taking to twitter yesterday, McDowell replied to a fan on his comments with a succint: “Attempt at constructive comments on schedule gone wrong.”
While he took time out to apologise to Aberdeen Asset Mangement, McDowell also revealed on Twitter that he spent Tuesday and Wednesday practicing at Muirfield for The Open, describing the course as “awesome.”
“What a track! Rough is proper thick. Check out my 18th hole video. #theopen moby.to/p9xcav”