STUFFY Scott Jamieson sank a ten-foot putt on the final hole for the second time in four years to secure an Open Championship spot, as classy Justin Rose turned the last round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open into a victory march.
Sharing the lead with Marc Warren at the start of the day, Rose quickly opened up a cushion on the Scot and the rest of the chasing pack before going on to secure an impressive two-shot victory at Royal Aberdeen.
It completed back-to-back wins for Rose, having also landed the Quicken Loans National at Congressional a fortnight ago, and sets him up nicely for this week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Among those joining him there will be Jamieson after he holed a nerve-jangling putt on the last – just as he had done at Castle Stuart in 2011 – to secure one of three spots up for grabs in golf’s oldest major.
It came at the end of an incredible round involving Jamieson and Stephen Gallacher as they, along with Rose and plenty of others, took full advantage of benign conditions making the Balgownie course pretty tame compared to the monster it had been in the wind on Friday. They shared 16 birdies in a better-ball of 58, with Gallacher’s 63 securing a share of the course record – Chile’s Felipe Aguilar had also lowered Rory McIlroy’s short-lived mark with an eight-under-par effort earlier in the day – and Jamieson securing a trip to Merseyside with his 64.
“I knew I had to hole it,” admitted Jamieson, who made life hard for himself after only getting his first effort – from around 20 feet – halfway to the hole. “I didn’t think I would finish in the top ten [one of the criteria] if I missed it.
“I was obviously nervous playing the last hole knowing that a birdie would probably secure my place in the Open.
“When I got up to the green and saw where my ball was I thought, ‘If I can get down in two I will take my chances from there’.”
It means eight Scots are now heading for Hoylake, where Jamieson will join Gallacher, Sandy Lyle, Paul Lawrie, Marc Warren, Jamie McLeary, Paul McKechnie and amateur Bradley Neil.
“I thought going into this week there is no reason why I couldn’t have a good finish,” added the 30-year-old, who claimed the last of the three spots behind Swede Kristoffer Broberg and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton. “I did it two years ago. That was probably in my mind at the start of the week.
“I felt that I played well in my first round. I was extremely surprised with the scoring because I thought it was tough. But I just said to myself, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing’. I was hitting a lot of good shots.
“I shot a good round on Friday [a 67 in those brutal conditions] to not only make the cut, but also to make a big jump up the leaderboard.”
In an astonishing two-ball, the only holes that Jamieson and Gallacher failed to birdie were the fourth, 14th and the last, where Gallacher also left his approach putt short but kept his nerve to hole the next one from around six feet.
“We are good friends,” noted Jamieson of how they’d sparked off each other. “He knew I was playing for a spot in the Open and I knew he had a few bigger things [a Ryder Cup spot] on his mind.
“Going up 16 I said, ‘C’mon, let’s see if we can get a few more here’. He managed one more and I didn’t. But not to worry.”
Gallacher’s closing salvo earned him a share of fourth spot as well as valuable world ranking points as the 39-year-old bids to secure a Ryder Cup appearance on home soil at Gleneagles in September.
“I’m delighted with that – it was a great round today,” he admitted after an eight-birdie effort. “I’ve played good all week but it was nice to go out and hole a few putts today, having had seven three-putts and a four-putt in the previous rounds.
“I wasn’t thinking about the big world points on offer here, to be honest – I can’t work them out anyway. I was just trying to make as many birdies as I could and now I’m looking forward to taking this performance into Hoylake
“Scott played lovely all day, too, and we were definitely bouncing off each other.”