Wonder shot wins Scottish Open for Rickie Fowler

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 13, 2015, 02:13 AM IST

Rickie Fowler won the Scottish Open at Gullane on Sunday, making it three birdies in the last four holes with a superb 109-yard wedge shot to within 18 inches at the last.

It was a dramatic finish to a closely-fought, round-long battle involving a dozen players, with the lead changing hands several times.

Fowler`s Ryder Cup team-mate Matt Kuchar shared second, a shot back, with Raphael Jacquelin of France after rounds of 68 and 70 respectively.

A shot further back came top Scot Marc Warren, who had the day`s best round of 64, young Englishman Eddie Pepperell, who had a 69, and Dutchman Joost Luiten with a 70.

It was just a fourth pro win for 26-year-old Fowler, who won the Players Championship earlier this year in similar style, and it sets him up perfectly for a crack at the Open Championship next week at St Andrews.

Last year he became just the third player after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to place in the top five in all four Grand Slam tournaments and many feel he is on the cusp of winning his first major.

"I knew going into the 14th where I stood and I had been playing the last four holes well all week," he said.

"Tried to birdie them all and came up just short at the 17th. Hit a really good drive down 18 and hit a wedge really close.

"It definitely does a lot for me going into next week. Still got a lot of work to do, but I like my chances. It`s great timing."

Warren`s 64 had set the clubhouse lead at 10 under early in the afternoon and he then sat back hoping for some rain and wind to play havoc with the leaders.

He didn`t quite get that, but the going out on the picturesque Gullane coastline was still tough enough to make matching him a difficult prospect.

Brooks, as he had done the day before, quickly lost his lead with a bogey at the first and it was Jacquelin who took up the pace, going around the turn at 11 under.

Americans Fowler and Kuchar were in pursuit but they were finding birdies hard to come by as the day wore on.

Brooks and Fowler then fell away with bogeys to nine under, leaving Kuchar closest to Jacquelin out on the course.

The American took a share of the lead with a birdie at the par-five 16th and edged ahead shortly after when the Frenchman missed a four-footer at the 14th.

Fowler then joined his countryman with birdies at 15 and 16 before he produced his grandstand finish at 18 to steal the show.

Jacquelin needed to hole his approach to the last to force a play-off and he nearly did so, his ball back-spinning to a few inches from the cup.

But Fowler had done enough, his three-birdies-in-four-holes finish winning the day in what was just his second Scottish Open appearance.

His winning putt was the first time during the four days that he had led the tournament outright.

Jacquelin`s consolation is that his high finish gets him a place in the Open.

"I haven`t played the Open since a few years ... so it`s good week to come and the confidence is back as well as my game," he said.

Phil Mickelson closed well enough at five under after a 68, but it was a worrying day for defending champion Justin Rose.

One of the favourites for St Andrews, the Englishman had a dreadful afternoon, tumbling off the leaderboard with a 76 which left him at even par for the tournament.

He, and the others fortunate enough to have qualified for the Open, will now pack their bags and make the short hop up the east coast to St Andrews for the year`s third major.