Singh claims surprise victory
Warren surrenders three-shot lead over closing holes
Last Updated: July 15, 2012 6:41pm
Jeev Milkha Singh: did not drop a shot in a closing 67
India's Jeev Milkha Singh beat Italian Francesco Molinari at the first extra hole to win the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
Starting the day in a tie for 16th place, Singh carded a final round 67 to set the early clubhouse target at 17-under-par, a score which at that stage looked a long-shot to win.
But the contenders fell away on the back nine, leaving long-time leader Molinari to make a 10-foot par putt at the last to force a play-off.
(GB & Ire unless stated)
-17 J Milkha Singh (Ind)
-17 F Molinari (Ita)
-16 A Noren (Swe)
-16 M Warren
Click here for collated scores
He rolled it in but when the pair played 18 again, Singh's birdie at the par five proved decisive.
Scotland's Marc Warren got to 20-under through 12 holes for a three-shot lead after a run of three birdies from the turn, but made a double bogey six at 15 and compounded that error with back-to-back bogeys on the next two holes.
He finished in a tie for third alongside Swede Alexander Noren but missed out on the final Open Championship place, which went to Singh, along with the title and the 518,000 Euros first prize.
The 40-year-old Singh's best performance this season to date had been a seventh place finish at the Stockholm Masters.
"I might need a little help to get to sleep tonight," said Warren. Asked if devastated was the right word to describe how he felt he managed a smile and replied: "Not quite yet. I am sure it will.
"It's going to be disappointing watching the Open (an event the World Cup winner has failed to qualify for 10 times). I had it in my hands."
After playing the first 14 holes in a brilliant five under par in the first windy conditions of the tournament it all started to go horribly wrong on the 423-yard 15th.
He faced a 15-foot par putt after finding rough off the tee, but three-putted it for a double bogey six.
His next drive found gorse and after a penalty drop led to a bogey five, then he chipped far too strongly on the short 17th and let yet another shot go.
Suddenly he needed to birdie the par five last to be in the play-off, but into the wind he needed three to find the green and then missed from 25 feet.
Swede Alex Noren was equally gutted minutes earlier as he had taken a bogey six there to finish one behind Singh.
Singh was assured of the Open spot going into sudden death because Molinari was already exempt for Royal Lytham.
It will be only his second appearance in the event. He missed the cut at Carnoustie five years ago.
"I just love links golf," Singh said, although he had a different opinion when he first experienced it as a 16-year-old in 1988.
That was for the qualifying rounds of the British amateur championship at Royal Porthcawl and also Pyle and Kenfig. He shot 87 and 84.
"I thought 'My God, this is tough'. I wasn't used to wearing raingear," he said.
Molinari finished runner-up for the second successive week. Victory would have taken him from 10th to second in the Ryder Cup standings, but he is still on course for a second cap after climbing up to fourth.
World number one and defending champion Luke Donald stays sixth on the points table after finishing 16th alongside, among others, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and Martin Laird.