• Trio confirmed to play in the 2016 Scottish Open
• Phil Mickelson returns to the scene of his 2013 triumph
• Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell also confirmed
The Scottish Open has received a monumental boost with the news that Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell will all be heading to Castle Stuart for the tournament.
With a packed summer schedule due to the return of the Olympics – with the year’s final three majors, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the Olympics part of a ten-week stretch – Rory McIlroy already counted himself out of playing at Castle Stuart, while Rickie Fowler was rather uncertain on his title defence after winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
But Mickelson, Swede Stenson and McDowell have all committed to the tournament, which takes place on the Inverness links from July 7-10, with the American in particular looking forward to returning to the scene of his memorable 2013 triumph, which was followed up a week later by capturing the Open Championship at Muirfield.
“I’m always excited about returning to Scotland, and particularly to Castle Stuart,” said the 45-year-old. “I believe winning there in 2013 was key to my success the next week at the Open Championship.
“Beyond that, the nation is the home of golf and I really appreciate the fans’ golfing knowledge and their respect for the game. It’s always one of the highlights of my year when I compete in Scotland.”
Stenson was hot on Mickelson’s heels in 2013, finishing third at Castle Stuart and runner-up at Muirfield, and he credited that run of events for his return to the top of the game.
“Even though I didn’t quite manage to get the job done in 2013, it was still the start of a great run for me and maybe I used those near-misses at Castle Stuart and Muirfield as motivation.
“For me, playing the Scottish Open is the perfect preparation for the Open. We’ll be expecting a tougher test at Troon the week after, but although Castle Stuart doesn’t beat you up as much as an Open Championship venue does, it’s still great to get into the mindset of playing links golf.”
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McDowell, the 2008 Scottish Open champion at Loch Lomond, meanwhile, is also looking forward to returning to Castle Stuart, despite being a critic of the venue in the past.
“I’m looking forward to making my return to Castle Stuart this year,” said McDowell, who has since settled his differences with Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive Martin Gilbert. “It’s going to be a great little period for me, with the French Open, the Scottish Open and hopefully the Open, so I’m very excited about that little stretch over the summer.”
And Gilbert hailed the announcement of the trio, adding: “With a condensed summer golfing calendar, having these star names playing is testament to the strength of this tournament and its enviable position of being contested the week before The Open Championship.”
Scottish Open trio confirmed :: Your thoughts
Amid all the negativity towards the Scottish Open possibly not attracting the same level of field, how much of a boost has this been? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.