Reigning Scottish Open champion Rickie Fowler has apologised to the tournament sponsors for his decision not to defend his title citing scheduling problems for his unwillingness to do so.

Championship director Peter Adams yesterday confirmed that the 27-year-old American would not be taking part when the tournament returns to Castle Stuart after a three year absence and admitted it was a blow for the organisers.

“He is very disappointed that he can’t play and has written to Aberdeen Asset Management saying how sorry he is he can’t defend,” said Adams.

“It is the scheduling this year (that is the problem). However we are very, very hopeful that he will come back at another time which will work out for him.

“Obviously everybody is disappointed, but we are hopeful he will come back and we are focusing on a really good field anyway.”

By contrast among the first to confirm his participation was Fowler’s countryman Phil Mickelson, the last man to win the tournament when it was held at the Moray Firth venue, going on, the following week to win the Open Championship for the first time in his illustrious career.

That capped a sequence which saw the winners of the Open Championship in each of the years that the Scottish Open come from players who had limbered up for the year’s big links challenge by playing at Castle Stuart.

“There was never a doubt that he would play,” said Adams.

“He entered pre-Christmas. He loves it here so it’s fantastic to have him and let’s hope his love for the Scottish Open continues.

“It’s great for the event and of course what happened in 2013 when he won here then went on to win the Open is absolute fold for promoters.

“He’s an absolute superstar, so it’s fantastic to have him.”