The Punter

The Punter's De-Brief: Red-Hot Rory heads to Hoylake on a high

Golfer Rory McIroy
Rory McIlroy with the Scottish Open trophy

Rory McIlroy produced a remarkable finish to win in Scotland for the very first time and Sweden's Vincent Norrman has grabbed his first win on the PGA Tour...


Pre-event 14.013/1 chance, Rory McIlroy, was matched at as low as 1.454/9 during the third round of the Scottish Open on Saturday morning and he went into the fourth and final round leading by a stroke and trading at 2.727/4 but it wasn't long before the world number three began to struggle in the blustery conditions on Sunday morning.

A bogey at the second set the tone for a tough front nine which saw Rory turn in two-over-par after he'd made back-to-back bogeys at eight and nine but luckily for McIlroy, none of the 11 players that had begun the final round with four of his lead did anything special themselves and both his main challengers emerged from further back.

Having started round four trailing by five and trading at 75.074/1, the very well-backed pre-event 20/121.00 chance, Tyrrell Hatton, hit the front after 12 holes.

He led Scotland's Robert MacIntyre by a stroke, and he was two clear of Rory, Tommy Fleetwood and Byeong Hun An.

When Rory hit a wild drive on ten, just after Hatton had hit his approach on 13 to the heart of the green, the Englishman was matched at a low of just 2.26/5 but that was as good as it got for Hatton.

His famously poor temper started to go when he left his birdie putt short on the 13th and he moved into mega-moan mode when he pulled his three-foot par putt left of the cup.

Hatton parred 14 and 15 but his chance was well and truly gone after he'd bogeyed the par five 16th and double-bogeyed the last.

Despite being there or thereabouts on Sunday, the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, never really threatened to take the title and he didn't trade any lower than 5.49/2.

Tom Kim, who had begun the day in second, was matched at a low of 4.1 and Tommy Fleetwood, who just sort of hung around all day without ever really looking like winning, was matched at a low of 3.211/5 but it was Dave Tindall's each-way fancy, Robert MacIntyre, who had begun the final round alongside Hatton and trading at around 170.0169/1, having been matched at as high as 200.0199/1 on Sunday morning, that emerged as the most likely winner.

Bidding to become the first Scotsman to take the title since Colin Montgomerie at the end of the last century, MacIntyre led by two when he made back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15 but Rory wasn't going away.

Minutes after Macintyre had bogeyed the par five 16th, Rory holed a 38-foot bomb for birdie at the par three 14th and the pair were level.

It really did look like MacIntyre had done enough when he hit this fabulous approach on the 18th to set up a rare birdie three there.

Having been matched at a high of 700.0699/1 during the third round on Saturday morning, MacIntyre was matched at a low of just 1.141/7 and Rory's price spiked to double-figures as he trailed by a stroke with two tough holes to play.

Only four men had birdied the par three 17th before Rory got to the hole and Thomas Detry had been the only other man to record a three at the last before MacIntyre had rolled in his birdie putt.

The odds were stacked against McIlroy, but he hit a fabulous tee-shot at 17 to make a two from inside five feet before hitting this quite remarkable approach into the 18th hole with his 2-iron.

Rory still had work to do and judging by his reaction, he didn't think his birdie attempt was going in but in it went and he heads to Hoylake in great heart.

Much will be made of his finish, and rightly so, but the par save on 12 that turned the whole day around was the turning point.

Rory's remarkable victory saw him move up to number two in the world rankings and I'm slightly surprised he hasn't firmed up a bit more in the Open Championship market on the Betfair Exchange.

It was a gritty victory in extremely challenging conditions, and it was impossible not to be impressed.

Over in Kentucky, pre-event 27.026/1 chance, Vincent Norrman, emerged triumphant after a dramatic finale to the Barbasol Championship.

Vincent Norrman wins Barbasol.jpg

Pre-event 120.0119/1 shot, Trevor Cone, looked the most likely winner when he was matched at a low of 1.814/5 before he double-bogeyed the par three 16th after a poor tee-shot and sat in the clubhouse, England's Nathan Kimsey's price dipped to 1.511/2 before Norrman holed his eight-foot bogey putt to get into the playoff.

With so much at stake, extra time was always going to be a nervy affair and after pre-event 160.0159/1 chance, Kimsey, had almost found the water off the tee, Norrman's approach missed the green right wide and only a few feet from the water.

From a poor lie, Kimsey advanced his ball 120 yards to a bunker left of the fairway and short of the green before playing his third to 15 feet.

With his right foot in the greenside bunker, Norrman had plenty to do but he chipped it up to within two feet and when Kimsey failed to roll in his par save, the Swede tapped in for his four and first PGA Tour title.

I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my Barracuda Championship preview, but I've already previewed the Open Championship here.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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