Rafa Cabrera-Bello won his first European Tour event in more than five years, claiming the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. The Spaniard had finished second six times since his win at the 2012 Dubai Desert Classic, but he overcame Callum Shinkwin in a playoff at Dundonald Links to win his third title.
Cabrera-Bello posted a stunning course-record 64 to get to -13. A bogey from Shinkwin after finding the fairway from the tee on the last meant the contest went to extra holes, where the 33-year-old hit a stunning second into the 18th to set up a tournament-clinching birdie.
“I’m extremely happy,” said Cabrera-Bello. “I’ve won before and I have been up there so many, many times with things not really working out for myself. I was starting to feel a little bit of pressure every time I was up there contending.
“I really felt I played some of the best golf of my life today. In the playoff, I really gave it a go and I’m extremely pleased it worked out for me. Winning again, it’s an unbelievable feeling. I think I was overdue. I enjoy those pressure situations. I think they really define you.”
Shinkwin had missed nine cuts in a row before making the weekend at the Open de France two weeks ago, but will no longer be worrying about his place on Tour after this finish that also secured his place at next week’s Open.
“It’s been a very good week,” he said. “End of the day, I’ll be more than happy to finish second but the win was on my mind and didn’t happen.”
Ian Poulter had shared the lead going into the final round but fell away with a 74 and a tie for ninth place. Two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington shot a 66 to move into a tie for fourth alongside American Matt Kuchar.
The field for the Open at Royal Birkdale was completed with three spaces for the top finishers at the Dundonald Links who were not previously in the draw. Shinkwin will be joined by Frenchman Matthieu Pavon, who finished third at -10, and Australian Andrew Dodt who was two shots further back.
Not there for the weekend (again), a big name offered more cause for alarm.
The lack of form being shown by Rory McIlroy continues to draw concern. He missed the cut for the second consecutive week but remains confident of his chances to repeat his 2014 Open success at Royal Liverpool.
“I’m frustrated but I thought I saw some good signs this week. My putting was definitely improved although my wedges were not quite there,” he said. “I’m just waiting for something, some sort of spark, something to go right, and the last couple weeks haven’t been like that. Just got to keep plugging away and hopefully it turns around next week.”