European Tour

Els defends Castle Stuart

Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Castle Stuart - The double British Open winning pair of Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington have defended this week's Scottish Open host course, Castle Stuart, declaring it to be ideal preparation for next week's British Open at Muirfield.

Former Scottish Open winner, Graeme McDowell stated on the eve of last month's Irish Open that the event had loss prestige and the course was 'not strong enough' to host the event since the tournament moved to the northern Scotland city of Inverness and the Gil Hanse designed course.

However the double Open Championship winning Els, who is competing in his 18th Scottish Open, disagrees with the absent McDowell.

"It's unfortunate and things have been said but from my own point of view, I love this golf course," said Els who also is past dual Scottish Open champion.

"They have done an unbelievable job here.

"It's a new links course, and it reminds me a little of Kingsbarns.

"The fact that you are seeing the ball bounce and besides I am playing here this week because I want to have a bit of a competitive edge before The Open."

Harrington won both his 2007 and 2008 (British) Open Championship victories after capturing the Irish PGA Championship in the week prior.

And while Harrington has not won a Tour event since capturing his third Major in winning the 2008 PGA Championship, he also is at odds with McDowell's view.

"Castle Stuart is not a golf course for Graeme McDowell as it has big fairways, and is a big golf course and it's not made for him," said Harrington.

"We saw last week in France, he loves the athlete's golf course, really tight.

"That's why I can understand he liked Loch Lomond (won there in 2008).

"Looking at his PGA Tour stats he's like third in shots gained driving the ball so he doesn't want to come to a golf course like Castle Stuart with big fairways, and where you have to get it out there and you really have to open your shoulders and hit big drives.

"Castle Stuart is a fine golf course and if you want to be critical about the course, it's in good condition, and actually it's in awesome condition."

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