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Transatlantic tussle is hard act to follow

There is one major drawback to a bandwagon rolling into town.

Team captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley
Team captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley

It has to roll out again. At any course the day after a significant tournament has concluded you will be greeted by the same anti-climactic scene. Stands are crashing down, hitherto bustling tented villages are being razed to the ground, Portaloos are being dismantled by workmen who look and smell as if they have spent three days living in them, and golf writers are being frogmarched off the premises at gunpoint.

On Monday, September 29 next year, the Ryder Cup will be over - unless the Scottish weather throws a spanner in the works and play runs into an extra day - and a mammoth clean-up operation will be under way. It will be back to business as usual for the Perthshire resort but how do you top the greatest team tussle in golf?

With the PGA Centenary course out of commission in the build-up to the transatlantic clash, officials opted to postpone the 2014 Johnnie Walker Championship, which is staged on the Ryder Cup track. "The magnitude of the Ryder Cup is such that trying to host the Johnnie Walker in the same season would have compromised both events," said the European Tour's Ryder Cup director, Richard Hills, at the time of the call-off. The question now is what will happen in 2015?

Having been a staple of the European Tour for more than a decade, the top brass are keen that the Johnnie Walker contest simply doesn't wither on the vine and George O'Grady, the chief executive of the tour, has admitted that brainstorming sessions regarding its future are ongoing with those in high places at Gleneagles.

"I'd like to think there will be something," said O'Grady. "Gleneagles is a great venue, and I think the Ryder Cup will be a catalyst. Anything after the Ryder Cup is a bit like after the Lord Mayor's Show, so to speak, so we have to think outside the box.

"Gleneagles want to remain as a venue on the European Tour if they can. They acknowledge that golf is good for Gleneagles. It's a matter of getting the right event. We haven't crystallised it but we've been sitting around the table brainstorming. We've got to get through next year first. We're looking at lots of alternatives, either exactly what was there before or coming up with a new way. Maybe they will consider waiting a year if it is right for them. But at the moment it is a very positive, genial discussion."

One other significant Scottish event definitely going ahead in 2014 is the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen in July. Last week in London, O'Grady bullishly gave an upbeat forecast for the European Tour's financial future. "We have turned a big corner this year and you would have to be very pessimistic not to describe this as a very strong situation," he enthused.

A key part of this buoyancy has been the 10-year deal struck with NBC and the Golf Channel in the USA, of which the Scottish Open was a vital ingredient. Last season's domestic showpiece at Castle Stuart was the first European Tour event to be shown live on American television and, having recently announced new, lucrative extensions with major partners Emirates, Rolex and Jumeirah Estates, O'Grady is now looking to use the Scottish Open as a major tool for continued expansion.

"A lot of people don't quite understand what a big deal this is," he said. "The Scottish Open was immensely powerful for the European Tour last year and NBC specifically trailed the Scottish Open in all their other coverage. For a regular European Tour tournament to be on network television in America, and get great viewing figures as well, has shown other sponsors what we can do.

"We struck it lucky with Phil Mickelson winning the tournament. It would have been great even without Mickelson, but he was the icing on the cake."

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