The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open (Marc Warren pictured by Getty Images) was given a significant boost today with news that its future has been secured until 2020, thanks to extended commitments from both the title sponsor and the Scottish Government.
Scotland’s First Minister, the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, Aberdeen Asset Management Head of Global Equities, Stephen Docherty – representing CEO Martin Gilbert – and European Tour Chief Executive, George O’Grady, confirmed the agreement in the historic setting of Bute House in Edinburgh, the official residence of the First Minister.
The extended agreement through to 2020 will see one of the most prestigious tournaments on The European Tour continue to go from strength to strength.
The Scottish Government have pledged their support to the tune of £1 million per year through to 2020, while Aberdeen Asset Management will continue their title sponsorship of the tournament to the same date, both partners therefore adding three further years to their current contracts which run to 2017.
Under the new extension, the tournament prize fund will rise from £3 million in 2014 to £3.25 million for years 2015 and 2016; increasing to £3.5 million in 2017 and to a minimum of £4 million in 2018. The prize funds for 2019 and 2020 will be confirmed at a future date.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is a superb deal for Scottish golf and I’m delighted that we have managed to secure the tournament’s future for another three years.
“The Scottish Open is a tournament which is already well established and highly regarded, and the world’s top players have been extremely complimentary of the challenge that Scotland’s magnificent links courses provide ahead of The Open. This deal will keep it in that key spot on the golfing calendar, meaning top stars, as well as golf fans from across the world, will continue to be attracted to our shores to participate in this iconic event.
“This year’s competition was worth around £6 million to Scotland, highlighting the economic benefits that it brings to the whole of the country. But there’s also the sporting benefit of having Scotland’s future golf stars being inspired by watching a world class competition taking place on their doorstep.
“Aberdeen Asset Management and The European Tour both demonstrated a great desire to extend this deal as they understand the value and prestige that it has offered over these past few years, and the Scottish Government has worked hard to secure the future of the Scottish Open.”
Martin Gilbert commented: “Much like our approach to investment, our commitment to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is for the long term. As a global company still headquartered in Aberdeen, Scotland, we are proud to now be involved with this superb Scottish event until 2020.
“The tournament continues to grow in stature as more players travel to Scotland to play a links course the week before The Open Championship and the sponsorship continues to deliver excellent global brand awareness for us especially through the TV coverage in the US, a key market for us.”
George O’Grady added: “Naturally, we are delighted at the extended commitment of both the Scottish Government – our longest partner in Scotland – and Aberdeen Asset Management to the Scottish Open. This is wonderful news, not only for the tournament, but for The European Tour as a whole.
“Thanks to the personal vision, drive and commitment of Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and Aberdeen Asset Management Chief Executive Martin Gilbert, the Scottish Open had grown into a tournament eagerly anticipated not only here in Europe, but also in the United States through its visibility on NBC, a ‘first’ on American network television for a European Tour event.
“I have no doubt that this continued partnership, which we have announced in this impressive setting today, will continue to enhance the Scottish Open through to 2020.”
The extended agreements give the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open the platform to build even further on recent successes, most notably in July of this year when one of the strongest fields in the history of the tournament gathered at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club to witness Justin Rose’s triumph.
Finishing inside the top 15 that week was Rory McIlroy who, course, went on the following week to lift the Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool Golf Club after claiming The Open Championship title for the first time.
After his victory, McIlroy was quick to credit the four rounds undertaken at Royal Aberdeen as crucial to his success at Hoylake and it carried on an impressive statistic for the tournament which has seen every Open Champion over the past four years – Darren Clarke (2011), Ernie Els (2012), Phil Mickelson (2013) and McIlroy (2014) – claim golf’s oldest Major title the week after playing in the Scottish Open on a links course. Mickelson, in fact, completed back to back victories in Scotland, adding The Open crown to the Scottish Open title he won at Castle Stuart Golf links.
Further links gems will be utilised for the tournament over the next two years when the Scottish Open makes its debut at Gullane Golf Club in East Lothian in 2015 and returns to Castle Stuart – the venue from 2011 to 2013 – in 2016, and it is anticipated that the rotation of the championship will continue around many of Scotland’s other classic links courses from 2017 to 2020.
Source: European Tour