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Quality field gives Stuart McColm reason to be cheerful

Stuart McColm will speak at the conference
Stuart McColm will speak at the conference

Castle Stuart’s general manager Stuart McColm believes his course is the perfect preparation for Open championship success.

Three years ago, Phil Mickelson emerged victorious in a play-off with South African Branden Grace to win a regular European Tour event for the first time.

The American then went on to win the Open championship for the first time the following week at Muirfield and claimed playing Castle Stuart was the perfect way to prepare for golf’s oldest and most coveted major.

It was a ringing endorsement for the Scottish Open and, in particular, Castle Stuart. McColm said: “It was the perfect storm. It was one of Phil’s best tournaments and he has been involved in a lot of tournaments over the years.

“We had a great winner and the course looked really linksy that year.

“We had Mickelson and Henrik Stenson going down the stretch on the Sunday with a chance to win and both players were in a similar position the following week at the Open championship.

“It showed this is a great place to come and prepare for the Open championship.

“It was also a great shop window for Castle Stuart. There was huge positivity after the first three years, but especially after the 2013 event.”

McColm is delighted so many of the world’s best golfers have decided to add the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open to their schedule.

Major champions Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Padriag Harrington, Y.E. Yang, Graeme McDowell, Paul Lawrie and Sandy Lyle will be in the field and McColm is particularly pleased McDowell will return to Castle Stuart this year after opting against playing the event in 2012 and 2013.

He said: “It is fantastic. It is great to see the likes of Graeme McDowell coming back.

“We were dealt a hard time in 2011 because of the weather and I think he will see a different course from when he was last here.

“To see people coming back after five years is pleasing and the course has come on a lot since then.

“To have Russell Knox, an Inverness golfer, in the field as well as major winners such as Martin Kaymer and Phil is fantastic.

“We appreciate the Olympics is causing difficulties in terms of scheduling, but we are delighted with a field we think compares very favourably with the BMW PGA Championship line-up.”

Castle Stuart earned lots of praise after its three year stint as host course of the Scottish Open from 2011 to 2013 and McColm says his staff are desperate to make sure the 2016 competition is even more successful.

He said: “Without getting complacent, it is nice we are in the position where we know what this week entails rather than experiencing it for the first time.”

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