New title sponsor as Scottish Open becomes part of PGA Tour schedule
An exciting future is in store for the Scottish Open after a new sponsor was announced for the event and also a ground-breaking development that has been described as “just the beginning” of how the face of the game at the top level is going to be changed.
Genesis, the luxury South Korean car company that already backs an event hosted by Tiger Woods in Los Angeles on the PGA Tour, will take over the title sponsorship from next year from abrdn, with the event having secured its coveted pre-Open slot until 2025.
In addition, the Scottish Open will also be among just three events to be co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour for the first time in a move that mirrors an arrangement already in place between the LET and LPGA that has boosted the Women’s Scottish Open.
It means the field for the Genesis Scottish Open, with next year’s venue still to be decided but The Renaissance Club looking a strong contender to host it for a fourth year running on 7-10 July, will be a split between members of both circuits.
As part of the first wave of changes to come from a Strategic Alliance and collaboration announced last November between the European Tour and PGA Tour, the Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship will also be co-sanctioned and comprise a similar field set up.
Under three different names, Edinburgh-based abrdn had backed the event since 2012, with some people fearing the tournament’s future could be under threat once that run came to an end.
However, on the back of last month’s event having attracted the strongest-ever field - it was led by US Open champion and world No 1 Jon Rahm - those concerns have been well and truly allayed.
With the Scottish Government extending its commitment through to 2025, another stellar sponsor has now been secured while the strength of the line up should be even better going forward now that the event counts for both the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup.
“This year was nothing short of spectacular,” said Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, of the 2021 edition having also featured Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa, who freely admitted the event had helped him become the Open champion at Royal St George’s the following week.
“But, with the addition of Genesis, our new title partner, and continued support from the Scottish Government, we will work together to take it to even newer heights. I had this conversation with some of the players last night; it's fantastic for one of our biggest events to be showcased like this on the European Tour.
“But it also means in the middle of next summer, with The Open (at St Andrews) to follow, the greatest golfers in the world will play two weeks in Europe, and that's fantastic for European golf.”
Speaking at the same virtual press conference, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan highlighted why the Scottish Open, which was first staged in 1972 and has been a Rolex Series event since its inception in 2017, has been chosen to be part of the historic co-sanctioning arrangement.
“I think the prestige of the event, the importance of the Scottish Open, the fact that it precedes the Open Championship,” said Monahan.
“I think having over 20 PGA Tour players that have played in the Scottish Open traditionally, it really presented us an opportunity when we started to focus on this schedule for an immediate way for us to demonstrate the impact that we can have together for all those factors, the Scottish Open made a ton of sense.
“Having announced the Strategic Alliance last November, next season is our first opportunity to make an impact, and we're really proud that it's at the Scottish Open, a great, great championship.”
After leaving Loch Lomond, the Scottish Open was moved around the country for a spell, with visits to Castle Stuart, Royal Aberdeen, Gullane and Dundonald Links before seeming to have found a settled home at The Renaissance Club.
While the East Lothian venue was the target of criticism from some players on its first staging in 2019, the view on it has certainly mellowed, with the American owners having recently added three-time major winner and current Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington as a player consultant as improvements continue to be made.
“We're not announcing our venue today,” said Pelley in reply to being asked about where the 2022 edition would be held, “but there is no doubt that TRC (The Renaissance Club) have really done a terrific job in their commitment to not only changing the golf course but changing the amenities.
“The Sarvadi brothers have an unwavering commitment to the venue. They are involved in the Champions Tour and they're now involved in the PGA Tour and the European Tour through TRC.
“Jay and I have a conversation with our new title partner in Genesis later on this month in New York, and we look forward to sharing with them that TRC is a venue that is more than worthy of the Genesis Scottish Open. They are a fantastic location and a good spot for us.”
In a further boost from the Strategic Alliance, the Irish Open will have its prize pot increased next year to $6 million - nearly double the amount on offer at Mount Juliet last month.
“It's a first step. There is much more to come from this alliance,” said Pelley of the announcements while Monahan declared: “This is just the beginning of what our future product model will look like and we're positioned to grow together over the next 10 years faster than we have at any point in our existence.”
Both Pelley and Monahan said they had not spoken to Andy Gardiner, the man behind a proposed breakaway Premier Golf League, and had no intention to do so.