Scottish Open: Rickie Fowler not defending title and blames tough schedule
World number five Rickie Fowler will not defend his Scottish Open title at Castle Stuart, citing a busy calendar with golf returning to the Olympics.
But organisers hope the participation of Scotland's world number 24 Russell Knox, born in nearby Inverness, will compensate for the American's absence.
Tournament director Peter Adams said he regretted the absence of Fowler.
"No Rickie this year, which we're obviously disappointed about and so is Rickie," Adams told BBC Scotland.
"He has written to us and said he would have really liked to come back to defend, but it is some of the schedule congestion that has been an issue for him.
"The Olympics is here for the first time and that's meant date changes for some of the majors and, if you look at that run from the US Open right up until the Olympics, it's incredibly congested and all of the players who play in the top flight of world golf I think have had some difficulty organising their schedules."
Fowler has missed the cut three times in his past five tournaments in the build-up to this month's US Open.
The 27-year-old won his Scottish Open title at Gullane, but the tournament returns to Castle Stuart from 7-10 July after an absence of three years.
"I think it's been a good thing to travel around Scotland in the past few years," said Adams.
"In terms of what we do for the future, we have announced that it is going to be Dundonald for next year.
"We haven't really discussed and thought beyond that and I think there will be a lot of discussion at this year's tournament about where we go after that."
There has been speculation about the future scheduling of the Scottish Open, with Irish Open organisers thought to be keen to take over the slot before the Open Championship.
"It has always been the tournament the week before the Open Championship and, as we stand now, that is the position," said Adams.
"I think for as long as I've been working on the Scottish Open, there have been various tournaments that have eyed the week before the Open Championship.
"It has served the Scottish Open well, so I think for this golf tournament it would be good to have that unless there is a good reason to change.
"That is really down to the European Tour and the chief executive Keith Pelley and there would need to be a very good reason for that to happen."
Phil Mickelson, the five-time major winner presently 20th in the world, will be competing at Castle Stuart - the scene of a 2013 triumph the week before the American won his maiden Open title at Muirfield.
Meanwhile, US-based Knox has also spoken of his dream of winning so close to his home town.
"If Russell moves up the leaderboard, I really hope that all of the Highlanders, the Invernessians, come out and cheer him on," added Adams.
"The course is in magnificent condition. It has matured a little bit since we were last here and I think it's going to be a fabulous test for the players."