Alex Noren holds on to win Scottish Open by one shot
By Camilla Tait
Last Updated: 11/07/16 11:29am
Alex Noren held strong on the final hole to win his first Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open title by one shot from Tyrrell Hatton.
With a two-shot cushion heading down the last at Castle Stuart, Noren holed a short putt for par on the final hole to hold off the challenge of Hatton, who birdied the 18th hole, and win the final event before The 145th Open next week.
The second and third-round leader began the day two shots ahead of the field, and a two-under-par 70 was enough for Noren to secure his fifth European Tour title on 14 under par.
Hatton finished second on 13 under, with Nicolas Colsaerts, Danny Lee and Matteo Manassero in a three-way tie for third a shot further back.
Noren relied on his short game to save par on three occasions, and despite struggling on the front nine the 33-year-old successfully fended off a difficult contest from a tightly packed field on the Inverness links.
"I'm so relieved right now," Noren said after his win. "Having those guys behind me and pulling through, it was big for me.
"I was so nervous the whole day. When the game doesn't feel as good as maybe it looks then you just want it to be over somehow and come out with a win and that's what happened"
Noren dropped his only shot of the day after spraying his second shot into the rough at the eighth, and Lee was quick to join the Swede at the top of the leaderboard with a gain on the first hole of the back nine.
While Hatton and Manassero also launched their late attacks on the top of the leaderboard, Noren's turning point came on the 15th hole with a birdie which helped him to regain a two-shot lead with three holes to play.
"I hadn't hit my irons really good today and we were in between clubs and my caddie said, 'Go with a hard eight', and that's what I did," he said.
"It feels really good, I've had trouble with the driver a little and the guy at Callaway changed it this week. My driver has been great this week and that's kind of what I've been lacking before this. With some more fairways hit, it's easier to play links golf."
Plenty of missed putts delayed Hatton's first European Tour victory, but with a birdie on the last he confirmed his best ever finish in solo second along with one of the four Open qualification spots.
Hatton may have moved within one, but it was a tale of missed opportunities for others at the top of the leaderboard. It was Lee's speed control on the greens that ruined his chance to win the tournament, two-putting from three feet on the 14th before three-putting an eagle opportunity from 10 feet on the 16th.
Manassero left it too late to charge, but although 12 pars in a row meant his two-under-par back nine couldn't get him closer than two, he also confirmed his spot at Royal Troon next week.
The last two Open spaces are occupied by Belgium's Colsaerts and Scotland's Richie Ramsay, who both made significant moves up the leaderboard as Romain Wattel and Justin Walters went backwards.
Both Colsaerts and Ramsay were helped by their red-hot putters at Castle Stuart, and within the space of four holes Colsaerts went eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie, holing putts of a total of over 110 feet to move two behind leader Noren.
Ramsay also had a run of birdies, but a bogey on the seventh spoiled his run of form and he finished one behind Colsaerts at 11 under par.
"I played to win today," Ramsay said. "I really thought I had a good chance to win but I'm immensely proud of finishing high."
Ramsay's playing partner Jorge Campillo rolled in his own long putt on the 17th to move to 11 under par but a costly bogey on the 18th dropped him to 10 under and out of both contention and The Open.
Meanwhile, Andy Sullivan had flashbacks of his triple-bogey finish on the last at the French Open last week as he double-bogeyed the 12th to drop out of contention, while Graeme McDowell missed countless birdie opportunities during his one-under-par round of 71.