European Tour admits mistake in setup amid high winds as players complain at Scottish Open

Shane Lowry, who opened in 5-over 77, was one of several victims of a Scottish Open setup that the European Tour apologized for.

European Tour admits mistake in setup amid high winds as players complain at Scottish Open

Euro Tour

European Tour admits mistake in setup amid high winds as players complain at Scottish Open

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INVERNESS, Scotland – In a rare display of contrition, the European Tour admitted to getting the setup at Castle Stuart wrong in Thursday’s first round of the Scottish Open.

With wind projected up to 30 mph in the afternoon, the gusts routinely exceeded that speed, including a top gust of 43 mph at 4:40 p.m.

These high breezes came on a day when the greens were running 10.1 on the Stimpmeter.

Combining those factors with the conditions, the European Tour realized in the aftermath that it had erred.

As the players in the afternoon wave came in to the recording trailer, they were greeted by Michael Stewart of the European Tour. He apologized for the setup and explained to players that the tour had made a mistake.

The European Tour issued the following statement through a spokesperson about the setup after the round:

“We received a number of concerns from players regarding the course setup for the first round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. We acknowledge we should have moved a number of tees forward to accommodate the strong winds which were forecast for Thursday’s first round. We didn’t, and accept responsibility in that regard.”

Some players clearly were not amused after the round.

“It was a guessing game,” Scotsman Russell Knox said of his afternoon even-par 72. “We were just pulling a club and hoping for the best. It was borderline too windy. I mean, balls were rolling on the green multiple times during the round, but somehow we kept going. It was hard, though. It was really hard. When a par 5 plays driver, 3-wood, 5-iron and I was nowhere near the hole, pretty tough day.”

The par 5 about which Knox was referring was the 18th, which measures 607 yards on the card. On Thursday, it played into the wind, with a small landing area off the tee.

Many players decided not to use a driver for fear of losing it right and having to re-tee as many eventually did.

Other decided that the ideal play was a long iron and then try to get to the green in three from the fairway or rough.

Either way, the 18th played as the hardest hole on Thursday, with a stroke average of 5.532 that included 14 double bogeys or worse.

“It’s a terrible setup, in my opinion: 600 yards straight into a 30-mile-an-hour wind,” Knox said after bogeying the final hole of the day. “They could have easily moved us up a tee. I disagree with that hole today. But I hit three good shots and three bad putts.”

Oddly enough, one player was happy with the setup. Two-time British Open winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland shot 2-under 70, just one stroke off the lead held by Scott Hend and Felipe Aguilar, in the afternoon and was almost giddy with the outcome.

“I expected some tee boxes moved up – 17, 18 maybe, and 13 – but I was delighted that they didn’t,” Harrington said. “They won’t move them up next week (in the British Open at Royal Troon); that’s for sure. And the fairways here are wide enough. It wasn’t like there was nowhere you couldn’t make a carry. And to be honest, like even 14, I went down the – or is it 13? – I went down the long line off the tee. Still it was only 170 yards to the front of the green.”

Of the 78 competitors who played in the afternoon wave, 15 shot 80 or worse.

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