In a finish reminiscent of his storming run for the line in this year’s Players Championship, Rickie Fowler of the USA reeled off three birdies in his last four holes to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open by a single shot from his countryman Matt Kuchar and Raphael Jacquelin of France.
Kuchar set the target at 11-under-par, as 54-hole leader Daniel Brooks of England struggled in the blustery conditions. Fowler looked to have lost his chance when he bogeyed the 14th to fall back to nine-under the card. But he dug deep and responded with back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th holes. After a near miss on the par-3 17th, Fowler needed a par down the last to tie Kuchar.
The 26-year-old had more ambitious plans than that. A ripper of a drive left him just over 100 yards to the cup and, taking dead aim, he played a superb wedge shot that ended tap-in distance from the hole. He converted to reach 12-under. When Rafa Jacquelin, narrowly, failed to hole his second to the last, the title was Fowler’s.
1. Rickie Fowler will go into next week’s Open Championship at St. Andrews full of confidence and well practised on the links. He’s looking to emulate what Phil Mickelson achieved in 2013 when “Lefty” won the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and then The Open at Muirfield. “Phil mentioned that to me,” he said. “Win this week and there’s a good chance to win next week. So I had to take care of business…” Fowler was joint runner-up last year at Hoylake and will be one of the strong favourites at St. Andrews. He has moved up to fifth place on the Official World Golf Ranking.
2. Marc Warren of Scotland produced an incredible final round of 64 to climb the leaderboard and finish the week in a tie for fourth place. The home player went out in the windiest conditions and carded seven birdies against just one bogey. He set a clubhouse target of 10-under-par that, for a long time, looked as though it could stand a chance. But, as the wind died, the leaders began to take advantage and Warren came up just shy. He will take great positives into next week though and could be one to watch at St. Andrews.
3. Three Open places were up for grabs at Gullane for the top three finishers not otherwise exempt, providing they ended the week in the top-10. The places went to Raphael Jacquelin of France, who birdied the last to finish tied for second, Daniel Brooks from England, who led coming into the final round but fought a vicious hook all Sunday and did well to limit the damage, and Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, who closed with a majestic 64 to seal his Open berth.
4. Luke Donald showed a welcome return to form this week. The former World Number 1 finished tied for seventh on nine-under-par, just three behind Fowler. It was only his second top-10 finish on the European Tour in 2015, but he too could now be one to keep an eye on next week in St. Andrews.