Friday, 19 March 2010

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell has won The Barclays Scottish Open by two shots after a final round score of 68 took him to 13 under par at Loch Lomond Golf Club.

South African James Kingston was second with a clubhouse score of 273, while Australia’s Richard Green and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez were a shot further back in third.

The win, McDowell’s second on The European Tour this season after a victory at the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea in March, lifted the 28 year old from tenth to sixth in the standings for The Ryder Cup, but he was not the only one to qualify for a prestigious event.

England’s Simon Khan, who held a two-shot lead after 11 holes of the final round but double-bogeyed the 12th and 17th to finish fifth, secured the final place on offer at The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Khan held his nerve to par the last when a bogey would have handed the spot to Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, who closed with a superb 64 to finish in a tie for sixth.

McDowell and Khan began the day tied for the lead and were still locked together at the turn on 12 under par.

Khan then moved two shots clear after a birdie on the 11th followed McDowell’s bogey on the tenth.

But that lasted just one hole when 36 year old Khan ran up a double bogey six on the 12th, needing two attempts to chip up a steep slope onto the putting surface after his approach came up short of the green.

McDowell moved into the outright lead with a birdie on the 13th and after both players had birdied the short par four 14th - McDowell two-putting after driving the green - the decisive moment came on the 15th.

Khan took a bogey five after pushing his drive into deep rough, while McDowell hit a superb approach to three feet for birdie to open up a three-shot cushion. Thereafter, McDowell bogeyed the 17th, but Khan’s double bogey five ensured McDowell took the title.

"This is just unbelievable," McDowell said. "It really was a tough weekend's golf with such a stacked field. It's a massive relief. It's one of the toughest finishes in European golf and I don't think I've ever shook as much as I was coming down the stretch.

"I've never had a two-shot lead coming down the last hole and I much prefer it to the the stress and drama I normally put my mum (Marian) and dad (Kenny) through and it's great to have them here.

"My dad first put a club in my hand aged seven and he's been with me for 20 years, through thick and thin. He just retired last Friday. This is my retirement present to him. He's an emotional man and I'm sure there'll be a few tears tonight."

The prospect of lining up in The Ryder Cup is, according to McDowell, a dream come true.

He added: “The Ryder Cup, I put it up there with winning majors. The Ryder Cup is something that I've really, really wanted to do. I desperately, desperately wanted to be on The Ryder Cup Team.

“I refused to be measured up last week at The European Open for my clothing and for my suits - maybe I'll accept that invitation next time I get it.

“It's a massive jump in the right direction today, and like I say, it's a real door-opener for me.”

Kingston was happy with his round. He said: “That’s probably as close to flawless golf as I have played. It felt like I hit almost every fairway.

“I really could not do much more. I had a great weekend to go from just making the cut to being in contention.”

Khan admitted on Saturday he was desperate to qualify for the Open with his wife coming from Liverpool and with grandparents living in Lytham and St Annes, but added: "At this moment in time I feel pretty disappointed. But for a couple of tee shots I played lovely today and I had a couple of bad breaks.

"I was in a divot on the 12th so couldn't play a lob shot and didn't hit a bad shot on the 17th but had no stance in a bunker which had been filled with new sand.

"But congratulations to Graeme, he dug deep and found three birdies in a row when he needed them and deserved to win."

Gallacher was joined in sixth by Robert Dinwiddie, who also finished at eight under par after a 69, while Italy’s Francesco Molinari was the third player on 276 overall having shot a final round score of 67.

Spain’s Alvaro Quiros was equally impressive in his final round, claiming birdies on the first, sixth and eighth before picking up further strokes on the 13th, 14th, 16th and last to take a 64, finishing on seven under par with Paul Lawrie, Jeev Milkha Singh, Oliver Wilson and Ernie Els. World Number Two Phil Mickelson shot a closing 73 to finish on two under par.

Mickelson remained upbeat. He said: "I had a great week this week even though I didn't play the way I wanted to. I had a lot of fun. I got acclimated to the time and I had three good days at Royal Birkdale before this tournament started.

“This gives me an opportunity to look at some of the strengths that I had this week as well as the weaknesses, which were mostly in my short game. I can work on them in the next three days and see if I can get ready and put it all together for The Open Championship next week.”

Els added: “I thought my last nine yesterday I played really well and played really well all day today from tee to green, but the putts dried up. I missed a lot of putts over the weekend, but I feel that it's been okay. 

“I had three weeks off before this week started, so I guess, you know, I got all the rust off the swing and off the game for next week.”  

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-13
2KINGSTON, JamesRSA18-11
T3JIMÉNEZ, Miguel AngelESP18-10
T3GREEN, RichardAUS18-10
5KHAN, SimonENG18-9
T6DINWIDDIE, RobertENG18-8
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