Scottish Open officials are hopeful 2013 winner Phil Mickelson will be back in the field for the event’s return to Gullane next summer.
The American ace, who won The Open that same year at Muirfield, has been one of the event’s most loyal supporters over the years but decided to skip this week’s staging at Dundonald Links.
That was apparently because Mickelson didn’t want to have to learn a new course as the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored tournament visits a fourth different venue in the past four years.
But, having played at Gullane in 2015 when fellow American Rickie Fowler claimed the title, the five-time major winner is expected to make his return next July.
“We hope Phil will come back next year when we go back to Gullane,” Martin Gilbert, the Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive, told reporters at Dundonald Links.
“He made it pretty clear a year ago that he wasn’t going to come here as he didn’t want to play a new course. He was very open about it, so it wasn’t a great surprise that he didn’t come, but I think he will come to Gullane next year.”
Rory McIlroy, of course, had been due to play in the event two years ago until the then Open champion pulled out due to an injury sustained playing football with his friends.
His presence in 12 months time would certainly help pull in the crowds, with Gilbert confident the East Lothian venue will play host to another world-class field.
“We’re working hard to get some of the other top-ten players to come next year, but the issue is they don’t want to play the French, Irish, Scottish and then The Open,” he added.
“So, in many ways we are victims of our own success with the Irish moving to where it is in the schedule. That has affected us to a slight extent because I think we would have got (rising Spanish star) Jon Rahm this year.”
Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, the current world No.2, is another player Gilbert is keen to lure to Gullane. “Japan is a big market for us, so we would love to see Matsuyama come and play here,” he said.