The European Tour has entered into an agreement with Castle Stuart Golf Links, situated between Inverness and Nairn on Scotland’s Moray Firth coast, which has been confirmed as the venue for the Barclays Scottish Open. The 2011 Championship will be played from July 7-10.
Castle Stuart Golf Links will be the seventh Scottish course to play host to the prestigious tournament since 1972; following in the footsteps of Downfield, St Andrews, Haggs Castle, The Gleneagles Hotel, Carnoustie and Loch Lomond Golf Club, which staged proceedings over the last 15 years from 1996 to 2010.
The ground breaking trip to the Highlands also begins a two week festival of links golf which spans the entire length of the United Kingdom, as it is followed by The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Kent, England; the fortnight perfectly showcasing the best of what is new in links golf at Castle Stuart as well as celebrating the heritage of the links game at Sandwich.
The prize fund for the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open remains at £3 million and to claim the first prize of £500,000, the players will have to conquer a new golf course which has received worldwide praise since its official opening in the summer of 2009.
Co-designed by Managing Partner Mark Parsinen – who was also responsible for the design of Kingsbarns in Fife – and American golf course architect Gil Hanse, the course was voted as Best New Course for 2009 by Golf Magazine USA while Ron Whitten, writing in the December 2010 issue of Golf Digest USA, stated that “Castle Stuart might be the most perfectly conceived and executed design ever built.”
Italian Edoardo Molinari will defend the title against a stellar field including Graeme McDowell, the 2008 champion, and Phil Mickelson, winners of the US Open and the Masters Tournament respectively in 2010, and three time Major Champion Padraig Harrington, who have all, at this early stage, committed to playing at Castle Stuart in July (see Player Quotes below).
European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady said: “It is always exciting to break new ground and everyone at The European Tour is delighted to be staging one of our most prestigious events at a new venue which has been so widely acclaimed.
“Our Members already enjoy competing at Kingsbarns on The European Tour International Schedule and I am sure they will eagerly anticipate testing their skills against the Mark Parsinen-designed course at Castle Stuart. Loch Lomond were extremely courteous and supportive during our negotiations to move forward with the Championship and we will all take away some wonderful memories of our time there and we wish them well in the future.
“This year’s venue might be young, but we are delighted to maintain our strong relationship with Barclays for whom this is the tenth year of its title sponsorship of the event. Such a level of involvement speaks volumes for their overall commitment, not only to The European Tour but to golf worldwide. We congratulate Barclays for the vision in supporting the Barclays Scottish Open at such an outstanding venue for championship golf.”
Course co-designer Parsinen commented: "I fell in love with links golf in the British Isles 40 years ago and have spent the past 15 honing certain links sensibilities, firstly with the crafting of Kingsbarns in St Andrews and now with Castle Stuart in the Highlands.
“All of us involved with Castle Stuart know what a privilege it is to host the Barclays Scottish Open as the first stop in a two week celebration of links golf in the British Isles."
Tim Peat, Managing Director, Barclays Capital, said: “Scotland as the home of golf has a history of developing and presenting world class golf courses and tournaments, and the Barclays Scottish Open has always sought to reflect that pedigree. I would like to thank Loch Lomond Golf Club, its management, owners and members for hosting the Barclays Scottish Open over the past nine years. Loch Lomond's exceptional green keeping combined with its superb organisation and hospitality has delivered memorable and exciting golf and made the Barclays Scottish Open an essential part of the golfing calendar.
“We have always received requests from professionals to host the Barclays Scottish Open at a links course and we are delighted The European Tour has selected Castle Stuart. We look forward to working with the team at Castle Stuart and our partners at The European Tour to continue to deliver a world class tournament. We are confident this new links course will be a fantastic venue for the golfing public and our clients to watch the world’s best golfers compete for the Barclays Scottish Open.”
This will be the tenth year that Barclays has participated as title sponsor and will continue its involvement with The European Tour, a commitment which also extends to its title sponsorship of the Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club, a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour, which was won last November by Australia’s Adam Scott.
As well as the support of Barclays, the tournament has also garnered widespread backing from the public sector agencies in the local area, namely Highland Council, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Visit Scotland, Event Scotland and Scottish Development International, all of whom who have pledged their support and assistance.
Padraig Harrington, who will be seeking his first victory in the event, commented: “Castle Stuart is reputed to be a fine addition to Scotland’s links courses and I think many players will welcome the opportunity to play competitive links golf the week prior to The Open Championship, which has proved to be ideal preparation for me in the past.”
Graeme McDowell, winner of the Barclays Scottish Open in 2008, said: “I will always have wonderful memories of my victory in the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond in 2008. However, I am delighted at the prospect of playing two classic links courses in consecutive weeks this year in the Barclays Scottish Open at Castle Stuart followed by The Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
“As a native of Portrush, I grew up with links golf and I’ve heard some great reports about Castle Stuart and am really looking forward to playing the course. The combination of an exciting new venue and a top class sponsor in Barclays should ensure a memorable tournament there in July.”
Phil Mickelson, three-time Masters Champion and a strong supporter of the event down the years, said: “I am really excited about moving the Barclays Scottish Open to Castle Stuart Golf Links this year. I know I'm looking forward to testing my game on a strong links course the week before The Open Championship and I'm sure a number of top players from the PGA Tour will be taking advantage of the opportunity. This is set up to be outstanding for the tournament, the players and the fans.”
Edoardo Molinari, who won the first of two titles in Scotland in 2010 at the Barclays Scottish Open, said: “Winning the Barclays Scottish Open was one of the highlights of my career to date and I am looking forward enormously to defending my title at Castle Stuart.
“I am sure that my colleagues on The European Tour will share my delight at the news that we will be playing a classic Scottish links course before heading to Royal St George’s for The Open and it promises to be an exciting and competitive two weeks of golf in July.”
The course at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The first three holes on each nine play away from the art deco clubhouse and hug the Moray Firth coastline while the remainder of the golf course is mostly atop a plateau and the stair-step nature of the routing and shaping creates the impression of 'infinity greens'; ie that they are hanging right over the edge of the water.
The views afforded by the golf course are spectacular; from Castle Stuart itself, a regal 17th Century citadel positioned behind the fourth green; to the Chanonry Lighthouse across the Moray Firth to the east and the Kessock Bridge, the gateway to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, to the west.
For further information on Castle Stuart visit www.castlestuartgolf.com/distinctive-course-features.html
The Barclays Scottish Open Championship in 2011 will boast one of the strongest fields on The European Tour International Schedule, with many of the world’s best players in action pursuing a prize fund of £3 million. All four days will be broadcast live on both BBC Television (July 9 and 10) and Sky Sports (July 7 and 8) with extensive highlights on both channels.
Advance tickets are now on sale for the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open with significant reductions available on tickets purchased before the end of March. For full details of these ticket offers and other events on The European Tour, please visit www.europeantourtickets.com or telephone the Ticket Hotline: +44 (0) 800 023 2557; fax +44 141 887 0223. Please send postal enquiries to European Tour Tickets, Mirren Court Three, 123 Renfrew Court Three, Paisley, PA3 4EA.
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