It was won by Stephen Gallacher, Andy Sullivan and Tommy Fleetwood before they went on to play in the Ryder Cup, but there’s also another trend developing in the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship. For the third time in nine years and fourth time overall, the trophy is in French hands.
Victor Veyret, a 21-year-old from Chantilly, turned the last day into a procession over the King’s Course at Gleneagles. One ahead at the halfway stage, he’d stretched that advantage to four following a third-round 67. Even in a strengthening wind, Veyret never took his foot off the pedal in the final circuit, closing with another 67 for a 12-under-par total and a six-shot success.
Irishman Conor Purcell closed with rounds of 67 and 68 – he eagled the last – to finish in second spot, a shot ahead of Euan Walker after the Kilmarnock (Barassie) man, Veyret’s closest challenger overnight, signed off with two 70s to finish as top Scot.
Veyret joins Francois Illouz (1989), Romain Wattel (2010) and Paul Barjon (2012) in claiming that title. Add in various other French successes on Scottish soil by the likes of Thomas Levet, Gregory Havret, Gwladys Nocera, Virgine Lagoutte-Clement and Isabelle Boineau and the Auld Alliance is firmly intact on the fairways. “This is bigger, I think,” said 6ft 6in Veyret in comparing his latest triumph to a success in the 2016 Italian Amateur Championship. “The first day my irons were very good and for most of the tournament my putting has been good on greens that were perfect.”
He was wearing a sweater sporting the 2018 Ryder Cup logo and said of that upcoming event in his home country: “I’m going to be a scoreboard carrier inside the ropes. That will be so great and, of course, it would be a dream to play in that event myself one day.”
World No 8 Robin Dawson, the highest-ranked player in the field, had emerged as a real threat to Veyret after carding a seven-under 63 – a course record due to a new tee at the 18th – in the morning. The Tramore man, who’d been six-over for the event after just 11 holes on Monday, was home in 29 and just four off the lead following 54 holes.
Unfortunately for him, the final round was a total contrast. His challenge had died after limping out in 40 and, after then starting back 6-5, the damage had already been done before he signed off with four birdies in the final five holes. A closing 75 saw him have to settle for a share of eighth spot.
One of the differences was Neil Manchip, the Edinburgh man who has worked wonders as the Irish national coach since taking up that post in 2005. “Neil was on my bag this morning and it all came very easy,” admitted Dawson. “But we’d made a deal last night that he’d caddie for Conor Purcell [the other Irish Eisenhower Trophy team member in the field] in the afternoon and I could have done with him when things were not going my way, especially as I found bits of the course fiddly.”
Purcell also clearly benefitted from having Manchip at his side and Dawson added: “I’ve worked with Neil since I was 13 and I can’t thank him enough. He knows what to say at the right times. His guidance is very good and it’s no wonder he’s had a lot of success.”
Walker was pleased with his performance in a week when he turned 23. “Victor played really well, “ said the Ayrshireman of the winner. “I was always too far behind but, overall, it was a pretty good week for me and, in the first two rounds in particular, I was good from tee to green.”
Irvine’s Stuart Easton birdied the last to finish joint fourth, while Greg Dalziel, last year’s Scottish Boys’ champion from Airdrie, claimed 12th spot. Nurtai Saldaroz, the 18-year-old from Kazakhstan who is a member at Craigielaw, ended up joint 13th, just ahead of Turnhouse’s Euan McIntosh.