Alex Salmond has admitted that Scotland's politicians need to step up to the plate like Andy Murray and play their part in inspiring the next generation of Scottish sportsmen and sportswomen.

The First Minister was at Castle Stuart yesterday, host venue to this week's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, to announce that more than 260,000 nine-year-olds have been introduced to golf since the inception of Clubgolf, Scotland's junior programme, in 2003. The Scottish Government has given a renewed commitment of £2m to support the core Clubgolf initiative from 2014, the year the Ryder Cup comes to Gleneagles, through to 2018. That comes in the wake of sportscotland unveiling an investment package of almost £6m to bolster the development of tennis in the aftermath of Murray's Wimbledon triumph.

Salmond is eager to capitalise on the current buoyancy and insisted that commitment has to be shown from those in power if Scottish sport is to flourish on the global stage.

"This is about our duty to the country, which means everybody gets the maximum chance to participate in any sport," he said. "We need to build the base. The question is how do you take them on from that and make them champions. Unless you build the base you can't identify the people who will come on to be champions. Unless you get the coaching setup right you can't take people forward. We're a country of five-and-a-quarter million people but there's no reason why we can't have big ambitions. Andy proved that, beyond any doubt. We can produce champions whether it's golf or tennis by maximising opportunities."

Salmond, who played in yesterday's pre-Scottish Open Pro-Am at Castle Stuart with the four-time major winner Phil Mickelson, would like to see the Clubgolf blueprint utilised in other sports. "If we can model this latest tennis programme on the success of Clubgolf then it will make a huge difference," he said.

Salmond hopes the effects of Murray's triumph will instil a sense of belief and optimism in Scotland's next wave of talent. "Andy deserves every success," he said. "Every time he's faced with a challenge he meets it. Every time he has identified any sort of weakness he has addressed it. It's all about self improvement, it's all about success, but the point for the rest is that they now know that a Scot can do anything in sport. If a Scot can become a Wimbledon champion, then one can become the Open champion. A Scot can do anything."

Gilbert said: "Graeme has been in touch to apologise. He's not the first person to say something they regret so we've got not problems whatsoever with him. In fact, he's been a true gentleman. He said he'd consider issuing a statement himself but we agreed that would keep the matter running. So my hope is that he will play at Royal Aberdeen next year after saying what a great course it is.

"He was fantastic for taking the time to get in touch and I admire him for that. He said we should catch up at the Open for a chat and I was really impressed with how he has handled this situation."