Retief Goosen completed his second wire-to-wire win of the season at Loch Lomond when he cruised to victory in The Scottish Open.
Bathed in sunshine, the Bonnie Banks never looked better for the South African who repeated his memorable US Open achievement at Southern Hills, dominating the tournament throughout the four days from his opening 62 to his final round 71.
Even two closing bogeys could not take the shine off the victory for the 32 year old who finished with a 16 under par total of 268 to end three shots clear of Thomas Björn and four clear of a quartet of players; John Daly, Barry Lane, Paul McGinley and Adam Scott.
It was Goosen’s fourth consecutive top six finish on the 2001 European Tour International Schedule and helped consolidate his position at the top of the Volvo Order of Merit with 2,007,723 euro (£1,207,452) to his name. In addition he moved through the five million euro mark in total career earnings.
“It’s great for my confidence coming here this week and winning,” he said. “I think if people say I was lucky winning (the US Open) then maybe I’ve proved myself a little bit this week in what was a pretty strong field.
“This year I am going to finish off The European Tour and now that is going well I am going to keep at it and see if I can win the Volvo Order of Merit. It would be great to add my name alongside great players like Monty and Lee, but there is still a long way to go.”
Having started the day three shots clear of the field, Goosen sent out a clear signal to the chasing pack that they would have their work cut out catching him when he birdied the second and sixth holes in a flawless outward half of 34.
With none of his nearest challengers making any significant moves, the South African played calm and controlled golf on the inward half, seven par figures ending all doubt about the destination of the title and the 610,998 euro (£366,660) first prize.
An underclub at the short 17th cost him a bogey four and a mishit five iron at the last meant he ended with a bogey five but neither error could take the shine off an impressive and confidence-enhancing victory ahead of this week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Runner-up Thomas Björn produced the best performance of the supporting cast, his final round 67 for a 13 under par total of 271 helped by four birdies in five holes from the tenth. But the Dane admitted he knew a win was out of the question.
“I didn’t really get too close,” he said. “Retief played fantastic and you have to take your hat off to him – he is on a real confidence high, although for me it was nice to shoot four rounds under 70.
“It was a good performance as far as I was concerned. I played proper golf but just didn’t get the most out of it. I need to win soon though because I’ve been so close recently.”
Of the quartet who finished in a tie for third place on 12 under par 272, best performance came from Barry Lane, who partnered Björn, and who continued the recent resurgence which saw him finish in the top ten at the Murphy’s Irish Open a fortnight ago, with a tidy closing 68.
An eagle at the third and birdies at the tenth and 15th holes came before he dropped a shot at the 17th. But the 41 year old Englishman could not hide his delight after picking up a cheque for 174,137 euro (£104,500).
“My wife has been bashing me over the head recently telling me to start enjoying my golf again and that is what I have been doing,” he said. “ It was great to play all four days in the company of players such as Thomas and I was pleased with the way I competed.”
Paul McGinley could have shared second with Björn but for a dropped shot at the 18th where his drive kicked left and found an awkward lie. But, like Lane, the Irishman preferred to concentrate on the positive aspects of the day.
“It was disappointing but a lot of people have done that on the last,” he said. “But I can’t be too disappointed because I played well this week, I enjoyed it and picked up more Ryder Cup points and more experience.”
John Daly, the 1995 Open Champion, warmed up for Royal Lytham & St Annes with a closing 70 to crown a week which reaffirmed the Californian’s belief that the good days, both on and off the course, were about to return.
“The last two months have been very good and I’m much more consistent now,” he said. “I don’t think I can hit the ball any better. My mind is good and I feel a lot better than I did at St Andrews last year.
“I would love to do a Nick Price and win some Majors at this age and maybe try to challenge Tiger. I am starting to believe in myself again.”
Making up the quartet was Adam Scott who started the final day in closest pursuit of Goosen, three shots adrift, but who failed to give himself an early birthday present the day before his 21st, with a final round of 72.
The Australian had the consolation of picking up one of the 15 spots on offer for this week’s Open Championship but he admitted he had still some way to go before he was happy with his performance.
“I got one job done getting into the Open and maybe I’ve moved up a couple of spots on the Volvo Order of Merit,” he said. “So two good things have come out of the week but I have to work on my game, it is just not holding up when I get into contention.”