Brandon uses Scottish Open as stepping Stone to Carnoustie
The field for The 147th Open is almost complete after Brandon Stone, Eddie Pepperell and Jens Dantorp added their names to the starters list with stunning displays at the Scottish Open.
On a superb day, which saw major winners and top-ten players wow the crowds, Stone was in sublime form as he lifted his third European Tour title – coming agonisingly close to shooting the first 59 in Tour history in the process.
He held off Pepperell by four shots with Dantorp tied for third, and now they will head for Carnoustie for next week’s major.
Stone smashes the field to claim title
With as many as 30 players in the hunt for the Scottish Open crown, it was always going to take something special on the final day – and Brandon Stone provided it at Gullane.
The South African started three shots back at ten-under but quickly played his way into contention before an outstanding back nine saw him grab four birdies and an eagle at 16.
He even had a putt for a 59 – which would have been the first in European Tour history – on the last but missed by inches from eight feet.
However the title, and the knowledge that he has qualified for Carnoustie, quickly put a smile back on his face as he looks to better his best Open finish of tied-70th from last year.
“It is incredible. If I am honest, I did not know what my score was before walking to the 18th green – it was just one of those days where everything went in,” he said.
“To walk off with a 60 after missing one from eight feet is annoying but I won’t complain! My caddy came to me and said you don’t get putts like this too often but I will take it.
“The putt (for eagle) on 16 was where I knew it was won. The emotions came flooding and I struggled to keep it in – it has been a long 18-month journey but my swing felt incredible.
“I am extremely excited but we are playing at Carnoustie and that golf course can humble you. I am under no illusions I will have to prepare correctly.
“I am heading up on Monday and hopefully I can find some accommodation! I was not planning on getting through but it was a fantastic week so hopefully I can build on it.”
Pepperell cancels his plans
Eddie Pepperell was planning on being at Carnoustie regardless of how he performed at Gullane but now he will have a club in his hand instead of a microphone.
The Englishman’s second-placed finish ensured he took one of the three qualifying spots, forcing him to abandon plans to commentate for BBC Radio Five Live.
Pepperell was superb on the final day, hitting a six-under par round of 64 to fire himself into winning contention on Sunday afternoon – but in the end he was beaten by an inspired Stone.
Well, I’ve never played a practice round at Gullane and I’ve come 4th and 2nd. Edinburgh is beautiful. @BrandonMStone that was a fantastic round buddy and at a wonderful time too (🇿🇦). Thanks to all involved this week for another great Scottish Open experience 👏🏼— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) July 15, 2018
However, a first Open appearance since 2015 at St Andrews lies ahead and the 27-year-old admits he can’t wait.
“It saves me doing Five Live, at least for two days,” he said. “It is nice to be heading up there, I will probably go on Tuesday. I will drive home tonight and then get back up for a practice round or two.”
The third and final qualifying spot for The Open went to Sweden’s Jens Dantorp – the overnight leader shooting a middling round of 68 but his birdie on 16 was enough to secure a tie for third at -15.
That was level with Luke List and Trevor Immelman but List was already exempt for Carnoustie and Dantorp edged the final spot on offer at The Open by virtue of his higher world ranking than veteran South African – and 2008 Masters winner – Immelman.
Reed and Fowler in ominous form
On the last Sunday of the Masters, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler captivated fans with an enthralling final-round battle.
Reed pipped Fowler on that occasion for his first major win and you would not bet against the duo hogging the limelight down Carnoustie’s back nine this time next week.
Both had encouraging weeks as Fowler, who won the Scottish Open in 2015, finished in a tie for sixth while Reed was tied for 23rd on ten-under par – ten off Brandon Stone.
Victory may have eluded them but their accuracy off the tee and touch around the greens were impressive and Reed insists he is confident.
“This is completely different to what we play on back home. I thought I hit the ball well, but got a few bad breaks through the week,” he said.
“On links courses you have to accept that but then you get good ones too and need to capitalise on them. I’m feeling good about my game right now.”