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July 15, 2012

Martin Gilbert

George O'Grady

Alex Salmond


SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.テつテつ We have representatives of the three organisations who have helped make the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open such a success.テつ I'm pleased to welcome Scotland's First Minister, the Rt Honourable Alex Salmond; Aberdeen Asset Management Chief Executive, Martin Gilbert; and European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady.テつ And furthermore I'm delighted to welcome to today's top table, Mr Roger Cornick, who is chairman of Aberdeen Asset Management.
To start us off it's my great pleasure to open the floor to the First Minister, the Rt Honourable Alex Salmond.
ALEX SALMOND:テつ For those of who you were not at Edinburgh Castle, I became the first person in history to hit a ball off the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.テつ There was a big report the next day about putting someone in hospital in the Grassmarket but I managed to suppress that luckily!テつ But it was a great launch to the tournament with Paul Lawrie a few months ago and the tournament has lived up to expectations and indeed surpassed them.
We had three objectives when we decided to help The European Tour and Aberdeen Asset Management with sponsoring this great tournament but the first was to endorse and promote junior golf in Scotland.テつ I think all of you probably are aware of the ClubGolf programme and importance we attach to it and the principles we have behind it, and also to have a coaching backup and a code of etiquette behind it.テつ We think it's a transformation for Scottish golf.テつ And this week's event, particularly the event we staged on Wednesday, there were 500 club golfers from the north of Scotland with Colin Montgomerie and Martin Laird on the practise range, had a fantastic time and gave a huge boost to the ClubGolf programme.
Our second objective was to bring a tournament to the Highlands and and this has fully lived up to the expectations of that.テつ The crowds this week will surpass the 60,000 barrier, and today will be fantastic for the tournament this week.テつ Also, the shots last night, and the shots we have just seen and just seeing the leaders teeing off, extraordinary for Scotland and for the Highlands of Scotland particularly.
I think that there are many, many great views in world golf, but I think the view from the links across the Firth from Castle Stuart must be one of the most extraordinary and exceptional views in world golf.
And thirdly, we saw in this major tournament significant business opportunities for Scotland.テつ I've held over 30 business meetings this week with companies interested in investing in Scotland and particularly the north of Scotland.テつ None I'm ready to announce but I can say over the next few months that there will be significant investment announcements for the north of Scotland and Inverness.
I'm not saying that these companies have made their minds up because they came to a golf tournament, but certainly, the fact that the Highlands of Scotland are able to stage a major international tournament, an event of this scale so well, is an influential factor I think.テつ And therefore, to be able to conduct serious business conversations with serious investors in this format and against a backdrop for such a fantastic tournament is highly significant.
So from Scotland's point of view, the three objectives we have had have been fulfilled:テつ One is about the future of golf, one is about the promotion of Scotland, and one is the joint effort of the people.テつ We are absolutely delighted with how this week has gone.テつ Of course, if the golfing gods could see their way and I was able to present the trophy to a Scottish winner in about four hours' time, that would be the icing on the cake.
MARTIN GILBERT:テつ Thank you.テつ It's been a very successful tournament I think for Scottish golf I think and for Aberdeen.テつ We have had a strong player field.テつ Good weather so far.テつ Great golf course.テつ I think hopefully get some fantastic action this afternoon.
We are obviously proud to be supporting this event and hopefully it can go from strength‑to‑strength now that it is being played on a links golf course.テつ And obviously we are very pleased to have helped the First Minister keep the event in Scotland, and I think it's very important for Scotland that we continue to have this very strong event.
It was great to see the First Minister working hard on Wednesday at the Pro‑Am, playing with two representatives from Mitsubishi.テつ You are probably aware that Mitsubishi own 20 per cent of Aberdeen, and maybe some of you are aware it was founded by a gentleman called Thomas Glover from Fraserburgh, and Mitsubishi have founded the Thomas Glover Museum in Aberdeen which both the First Minister and ourselves in Aberdeen have determinedthat that also survives and goes from strength‑to‑strength.テつ
We have also combined as many of the players that we sponsor to come to the tournament this week, Colin Montgomerie Paul Lawrie, and Martin Laird, who as we know is sort of in contention this afternoon.テつ We gave invites to some of the young professionals that we've supported over the years, David Law, Michael Stewart and James Byrne, and also leading players Jack McDonald and Brian Soutar, and I think it's a great tribute that Jack has made it through and made the cut.テつ He's about the third or fourth amateur ever to do that and we will give him a suitable reward later today.
Ross Kellett made the very brave decision of declining a sponsor's invite to play on the Alps Tour, so great credit to him to win that event.テつ We are actually delighted for him doing that.
Golf is a great sport for us.テつ It allows us to entertain our top clients from around the world, and it gives us great brand awareness, especially in the U.S.テつ For us, the U.S. is a very important market.テつ Over half of the world's assets under management are residents of the U.S.テつ So it makes great sense for us to see this event go from strength‑to‑strength and to see it televised live in the U.S.
We are very proud to be involved with this great tournament.
GEORGE O'GRADY:テつ Thank you, everyone for joining us today.テつ Sorry to keep you for waiting for an hour.テつ Such is the love of golf, all of the people at the top table, they really wanted to see the last of the matches tee off and it certainly went down well with our professionals.
I pay tribute to the two organisations represented here.テつ They were determined to keep the week before The Open Championship in Scotland, thanks to their drive and commitment; and in Aberdeen Asset Management, we have the perfect sponsor, one for their commitment to all levels of the game, male, female, young, professional.テつ Roger Cornick, the chairman who is here today played golf with Ernie Els last week at Queenwood down south, plays with a lot of our top professionals and speaks to them all the time about the way forward for the game and the way forward for The European Tour and the way forward for this tournament.テつ I think we have been made so welcome again by Castle Stuart for the second year.
This is the first day in eight tournament days that we have a proper wind.テつ You certainly have had some Scottish rain for us at times, but I think that it has needed the wind to get the real experience ahead of The Open Championship because in my own view, this is the perfect preparation; it's more generous off the tee which we need if we get really inclement weather.
Our players are relishing the challenge and we have had a really strong field, and certainly I'm delighted with the last‑minute entry by Phil Mickelson.テつ He has spoken of Castle Stuart at length, he has wanted to see it in the wind.テつ Whether it's lucky he missed the cut at the Greenbrier, I don't know, but to interrupt his holiday to come here speaks volumes for, one, the people at the top table and two, for Castle Stuart itself.
So from a European Tour point of view, it's great to see this tournament continue and come to fruition with our current sponsors and supporters and I think we are set (with the sponsors) for the next two years.

Q.テつ I think you would agree it has been a very successful tournament this week.テつ Can we convince you to come back to Castle Stuart next year and are the arrangement in place to confirm the venue?
GEORGE O'GRADY:テつ We are going to let the whole week go through.テつ We have talked to a lot of the players.テつ We have been made very welcome at Castle Stuart.テつ We have the offer to stay here.
I think it will be the running favourite but we are looking at all different views and we have had lots of inquiries from different clubs within Scotland and we are just going to take a couple of weeks to let the dust settle.

Q.テつ Given what the top table have just said, why not just make the decision to say that next year, we will be playing The Scottish Open here at Castle Stuart?
GEORGE O'GRADY:テつ We don't need to do anything in a hurry.テつ All of the people at this top table are committed on the ways of going forward and they have spent a lot of time talking to our top players who have played here.
And I think there's nothing really to be gained from making an announcement today.テつ The commitment to the individual thinking of what is best for the championship goes two ways.テつ Personally I'm delighted the wind is blowing today, you can see the real teeth come up in this golf course, and I think that such commitment by the four of us and our advisors, we just take our time to talk it through.

Q.テつ Do you agree with moving the tournament around Scotland or keeping it basically in one venue?
ALEX SALMOND:テつ The views of the sponsor, Aberdeen Asset Management are crucial in this, but they are the company which came forward to maintain this great tournament in Scotland.テつ But what is decided is that the Scottish Open will be in Scotland, andテつ we are all agreed on its position the week before The Open Championship.テつ We think the logic behind that is unassailable.
And as George said, we'll have discussions over the next few weeks in good time and look at everything that's happened this week and there will be a decision and announcement made taking into account what you've said.テつ Everything that's happened this week has been good for Castle Stuart, good for the Highlands and good for Scottish golf.テつ This has been in our view a fantastic success this week and we will take time and make the decision and certainly you'll be the first to know.

Q.テつ How important is it‑‑ there has been a perception that maybe the players found it to easy, will the wind today change views on that and is that important?
GEORGE O'GRADY:テつ I think it is very important, because courses like this‑‑ you could play courses like St. Andrews itself, the Old Course; if it's soft and there's no wind, a professional would find St. Andrews quite straightforward but it's not normally played like that; it's always dry, running fairways and wind.テつ I think you need the wind here, too, out on the golf course.
Personally I've spoken to a lot of players this week, who said it last year and said it again this year, I think it the ideal preparation for The Open.テつ Phil Mickelson said last year, he said to me in private and I think he said it to publically as well, it's all the second shots into the greens, all of the different holes have different shapes of shot and require a different club.テつ For him, he can practise shots that you normally see for The Open Championship.テつ But this week the shot he's needed around the green is the high, flying wedge; he can play that all the time.テつ He wants to play the wind shots, the low, punch‑down stuff, which really is the attraction of this as an enjoyable and championship golf course.
ALEX SALMOND:テつテつ I found the course quite challenging enough on Wednesday (in the pro-am) without the wind and I think Martin will agree that I worked pretty hard out there (laughter).

Q.テつ You seem to suggest that there are several candidates for The Scottish Open I think.テつ Are you in a position to expand upon that?
GEORGE O'GRADY:テつ I don't think there's much to be said.テつ It's all the ones you can surmise yourself.テつテつ You can imagine that every course, notwithstanding Open Championship venues but the other coursescan be considered. One that wonテや冲 be, however, is the new Trump course because, as we said during the announcement at Edinburgh Castle, the venue isnテや冲 quite ready and wouldnテや冲 be considered during the length of this current sponsorship.テつ

Q.テつ Given the number of courses in Scotland, would you put The Scottish Open on rotation like the Open?
GEORGE O'GRADY:テつ I'm hoping that‑‑ together with the First Minister - we can decide that.テつ But the deal is to showcase Scotland properly to a massive benefit to Aberdeen Asset Management.
All four of us at the table, we know a little bit about golf, we listen to people who play, and in terms of what's good for Scotland and this particular region; there are lots of other regions on in Scotland, we have where the Open Championship is being played, we have the Alfred Dunhill Links every year, Gleneagles have their own tournament and we have the Senior Open to consider.
So it's looking at what is good for Scotland and that's why we need a couple of weeks to think this through.
ALEX SALMOND:テつ The Senior Open in is in Turnberry and Gleneagles are staging the Johnnie Walker in the buildup to The Ryder Cup, and so you have the south west of the country, Perthshire and St Andrews and here in the Highlands; you have four tournaments across the year.
There's a real diversity going to the various tournaments as part of the run‑up the to The Ryder Cup, we would like to see it go across Scotland but certainly The Scottish Open will be staged in Scotland and that's been consolidated; and it should be a links course.
And what Martin said is absolutely correct from the point of view of the professionals and the game and the advertising aspect of Scottish golf.テつ Certainly what we have seen over the last few days at Castle Stuart has been all positives.テつ And the images out there, incredibly positive images across the Firth this week and going out to hundreds of millions of people worldwide are a major factor, as well.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Thank you all for your attendance.

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