It would have been easy enough for Graeme McDowell, when asked before the Irish Open about skipping the Scottish Open, to simply say he needed the week to prepare for the Open Championship after that.
Instead the Northern Irishman took a bit of a stand with some direct comments.
“The Scottish Open has lost its identity and its prestige. Castle Stuart probably has not been a strong enough golf course,” McDowell told The Scottish Sun. “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.
“We need to be capitalising a little harder on the week before and after the Open.”
That drew the ire of Paul Lawrie, a Scotsman who won the British in 1999 – as well as comparisons to McDowell’s national open.
“My answer to what he said would simply be that the Scottish Open has a title sponsor, it’s got more money than Graeme’s national open and it’s played on a links course,” Lawrie told The Herald of Scotland. “Everyone is entitled to their opinions but they were poor comments. He should know better.”
So, let’s look at a few facts and figures about the Scottish and Irish opens:
- Scottish purse: 3 million pounds (3.4M euros)
- Irish purse: 2M euros
- Scottish course ranking: No. 3 on Golfweek‘s Best GBI Modern list (7.87 rating)
- Irish course ranking: No. 13 on Golfweek‘s Best GBI Modern list (6.63 rating)
Opinions are opinions, but Lawrie’s retorts ring true – yet McDowell also had some good things about the Scottish Open before playing in the Irish:
“I feel bad singling out the Scottish Open, because I used to love it at Loch Lomond. It was a phenomenal tournament. Taking it to Castle Stuart was designed to get it on a links course the week before The Open and it’s a beautiful venue — but it is probably a little too wide open off the tee and a little one-dimensional.
“But Royal Aberdeen next year is a venue which attracts me. I’ve heard great things about it and it could re-light the event.”
Loch Lomond ranks No. 3 on Golfweek‘s Best GBI Modern list (7.87 rating), Royal Aberdeen No. 23 on Golfweek‘s Best GBI Classic list (7.34 rating). Perhaps that provides some insight as to McDowell’s thoughts regarding the host course.
Oh, and as for the purse? Well 3.4 million euros is a far cry from the Open Championship payout of nearly 6.1 million euros (comparable to the $8 million of last months’ U.S. Open). Then again, the Scottish isn’t a major.