Rafa Cabrera Bello sealed the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open title in stunning fashion after a brilliant final round 64 gave him the chance to defeat Callum Shinkwin in a play-off at Dundonald Links.
The Spaniard clinched his third European Tour title – his first in more than five years – and became the fourth Rolex Series winner, with a birdie on the first play-off hole.
Cabrera Bello had started the day four shots behind the leading group of Shinkwin, Ian Poulter and Andrew Dodt, but surged through the field on Sunday, carding eight birdies en route to a course record 64, to sit just one shot behind Shinkwin at 13 under par. He then watched anxiously on TV as the Englishman suffered a late slip, bogeying the 18th to set up the sudden-death shoot-out.
Both players hit fine drives at the first extra hole, but after Shinkwin’s approach found an awkward, downhill lie by the greenside bunker, Cabrera Bello hit a superb approach shot into the par-five from 275 yards, and was able to two-putt to victory.
Shinkwin’s consolation prize is a place in The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. He will be joined by Frenchman Matthieu Pavon, who came third on 10 under par and Dodt, who was two further back at eight under alongside Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, Matt Kuchar of the USA, Englishman Anthony Wall and New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.
Following his epic victory, Cabrera Bello said: “The spectators have been fantastic. Even seeing yesterday the rough day it was, having so many people for the conditions we had. I mean, golf in Scotland is huge and we always feel great support from the local crowd, and I think the venue has proven to be a very exciting venue.
“I have been working really hard to try to get the third win. Sometimes I felt that I have made mistakes and I end up not winning. Other times, I felt I’ve given a good charge, but other people deserved the win.
“This time, I really felt I played some of the best golf of my life today. I had an unbelievable Sunday, and I really went for it on the play-off. So I’m extremely pleased that today everything worked out my way.”
Shinkwin added: “It’s been a very good week. At the end of the day, I’m more than happy to finish second but the win was on my mind and didn’t happen.”
Top Scot was Richie Ramsay in a share of 35th place, among seven Scots looking forward to this week’s Open.
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