Cameron John may be Australian to the core but the 17-year-old felt “born and bred in Scotland” as he clinched victory at Gullane in similar fashion to Rickie Fowler at the East Lothian venue last summer.
John, the Victorian Amateur champion from Melbourne, followed a course-record eight-under 63 on the No 1 layout in his third round with a closing 68 to win the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship by four shots with an impressive 15-under-par 269 total.
Sharing the lead after starting par-birdie-eagle-birdie in the closing circuit, Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest had the wind taken out of his sails by a double-bogey 6 at the seventh, where he pulled his drive into some nasty thick rough going for the green.
The Scottish No 1 described a subsequent 70 that contained just five pars as a “bit of a roller-coaster” as he finished joint-second with Irishman Stuart Grehan (66), just ahead of Peebles player Craig Howie, while Connor Syme (Drumoig Golf Centre) added to a strong home showing in fifth place.
Fowler finished with a spectacular birdie as he won the Scottish Open at the same venue and John matched that feat, though, in his case, the closing salvo was set up by a links-style shot as opposed to one thrown high into the air. It must have been a good one as it impressed the watching Fraser Mann, who knows a thing or two about links golf playing at Carnoustie.
“I was joking with the people walking up the fairway with me that I must be born and bred in Scotland after hitting a shot like that as it was only about five feet off the ground from 97 yards,” admitted John as he savoured a second success on foreign soil in a few months after also landing the Argentinean Amateur Championship. John’s home club, Commonwealth, is located on Melbourne’s Sandbelt, but he reckoned it was his experience from playing on another course on that infamous stretch that helped get a trip taking in two more events in Britain then a handful more in America off to a flying start.
“The only place I’ve played like this before is Royal Melbourne, where you have to use the slopes with every shot,” he said, having carded eight birdies in a flawless morning effort to give himself a two-shot cushion heading into the final circuit. The Golf Australia junior squad member watched Fowler’s Scottish Open success on TV from the other side of the world and described both the American’s achievement and his own as “awesome”.
Forrest may have ended up a tad disappointed but the 22-year-old was certainly not downhearted. “That’s the best I’ve hit my irons for as long as I can remember, while I only hit a couple of loose drives,” said the Walker Cup player, admitting he is relishing this week’s St Andrews Links Trophy, an event he won two years ago.