Sponsorship extension on cards
ASI in talks to continue support of Scottish Open
Victory: Aaron Rai (pic: SNS Group)
Aberdeen Standard Investments is in discussions about continuing its long association with the Scottish Open.
In the wake of Aaron Rai’s play-off victory over Tommy Fleetwood at The Renaissance Club, Sir Douglas Flint, chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen, has confirmed that talks are ongoing about extending support of the tournament.
The current deal between ASI, the Scottish Government and the European Tour has been running since 2012 but came to an end with this year’s championship in East Lothian.
“The sponsorship has been very good for us. We are hopeful,” said Sir Douglas, a former chairman of HSBC
“As a business person you’ve got to be clear on the economics. When I was at HSBC the two sports we did were rugby and golf because they fitted with the demographic and values.
“The challenge is always: what are the other things you could do that might be better. I’ve had a long association with golf from HSBC and it was very effective.
“I think, candidly, that golf fits with a wealth business and a trust business. The values in golf are probably among the highest of any sport. It’s got a lot of really good credentials so I hope it will work.”
However, the men’s and ladies’ Scottish Opens could be set to go their separate ways.
A return to the events being held at different courses going forward was indicated by Martin Gilbert, a long time supporter of Scottish golf.
The two events were held at the same venue for the first time in 2017 at Dundonald Links, repeated at Gullane in 2018 and at The Renaissance Club for the past two years.
“We thought it would help economically, but it hasn’t really. It’s not as clear-cut a benefit as we would have thought,” admitted Gilbert, who retired last week as chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments but is staying involved in golf as a new European Tour board member.
“There is also a reluctance among courses to take both because of the huge commitment of their members to give up so much of their revenue. It will be easier in a lot of ways,” he said.
Rai came out on top at this weekend’s event after a tense afternoon on the North Berwick links.
The Englishman signed for a wonderful 64 to set the target at 11 under par but countryman Fleetwood holed a 20-foot putt on the last for a closing birdie to take it to extra holes at The Renaissance Club.
It was advantage Fleetwood off the tee as Rai found a bunker but the 25-year-old rescued his par and when Fleetwood three putted from just off the green, Rai had his second European Tour title.
England’s Robert Rock missed out on a place in the play-off by one shot after a bogey on the last in a round of 70, with Australian Lucas Herbert and home favourite Marc Warren at nine under after rounds of 65 and 66. Warren bogeyed the last to slip to nine under, a shot clear of Swede Marcus Kinhult, England’s Ian Poulter and South African Erik van Rooyen.
273 A RAI (ENG) 70 69 70 64, T FLEETWOOD (ENG) 69 68 69 67,
274 R ROCK (ENG) 65 67 72 70,
275 M WARREN (SCO) 70 69 70 66, L HERBERT (AUS) 66 65 79 65,
276 I POULTER (ENG) 67 66 73 70, M KINHULT (SWE) 66 69 71 70, E VAN ROOYEN (RSA) 71 69 71 65,
277 V DUBUISSON (FRA) 73 68 67 69, K SAMOOJA (FIN) 65 70 74 68, E PEPPERELL (ENG) 68 70 71 68, M SOUTHGATE (ENG) 68 71 71 67, P HARRINGTON (IRL) 71 70 69 67,
278 D HORSEY (ENG) 70 67 72 69, R MACINTYRE (SCO) 74 67 68 69, J WANG (KOR) 73 68 70 67, H LI (CHN) 68 70 74 66, V PEREZ (FRA) 69 69 74 66,
279 W ORMSBY (AUS) 66 70 70 73, L WESTWOOD (ENG) 62 71 76 70, G FORREST (SCO) 71 66 72 70, B STONE (RSA) 69 70 70 70, B HEBERT (FRA) 70 70 69 70, A BJORK (SWE) 63 75 72 69, J LUITEN (NED) 63 72 76 68,