The strange aspect of the Scottish Open always relates to the potential for more than one player to emerge a winner. So it proved again at Castle Stuart on Sunday; Alex Noren took the main prize as there was cause for celebration, too, for Tyrrell Hatton, Nicolas Colsaerts, Matteo Manassero and Richie Ramsay. That quartet claimed the final automatic qualifying berths for this week’s Open Championship.
Noren, who started day four with a two-shot lead, closed out with a 70 for a 14-under-par total. That was sufficient to take the title by one, from Hatton, who holed out from 10ft for a birdie at the last and earn him the biggest pay cheque of his career, £367,000. Noren claimed the first prize of £550,000.
“I’m so relieved, even more so than happy,” Noren said. “Having so many of those guys behind me on the leaderboard and pulling through, that was huge for me. My driver has been great this week and that is kind of what I was lacking in the weeks before this. With some more fairway hits it’s easier to play links golf, especially.”
Whilst the 33-year-old Noren was entitled to cherish this win, the biggest of his career, there was obvious embarrassment for the European Tour. By the time Noren, who teed off after 3pm for his final round to placate American broadcasters, took to the closing stretch, on-course crowds were noticeably sparse. Even more striking was the lack of public presence for the trophy presentation on the 18th green shortly before 7.30pm. Joined-up thinking had been lost somewhere in the planning.
Manassero’s Open place is perhaps the most endearing. The one-time boy wonder, who is still only 23, had been in a deep rut from whence he is maybe now emerging. “This is a really good moment for me,” the Italian said. “All these struggles and hard work and stuff are obviously paying off.”
Ramsay produced a charge towards Troon, courtesy of a final round of 67. Phil Mickelson was a stroke better on Sunday, thereby sharing 13th at minus seven. “It feels like there’s a little bit of momentum heading into next week,” Mickelson said. “I always love playing here, Castle Stuart is one of my favourite golf courses anywhere.”
Patrick Reed headed for Troon after signing for a second consecutive 67 and nine-under-par total at Castle Stuart, with the 25-year-old also confirming he will play for the United States at the Olympics next month. Reed earned a berth on Saturday after Dustin Johnson withdrew from the Games, citing concerns over the Zika virus.
Yet Reed, who had earlier been a firm advocate of golf in the Olympics, left himself clear wriggle room when pointing to a range of conversations he needed to have. On Sunday, Reed confirmed those transatlantic talks left him relishing an appearance in Rio.
“I got the email and phone call from Team USA. I went through a lot of things with them and we’re all in,” Reed said. “We can’t wait to go and play for USA and have some fun.
“I don’t think there were doubts as just kind of clarifications. I wasn’t in any of the meetings because I was always on the outside. Now that we’re on the inside, I was able to talk to the right people and figure out everything that’s going on and what the plans are for our team. So we feel comfortable, so we’re going to go over and have a good time.”
Reed’s compatriot Jordan Spieth has insisted during weekend warm-up sessions at Troon that he remains undecided over Olympic participation. The same did apply to fellow American Rickie Fowler but he tweeted on Sunday evening that he will travel to the Games.
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