Scottish Open 2016
Round 4 - Alex Noren clinches narrow victory
July 11, 2016
Alex Noren held off his pursuers in the final round Sunday to win the Scottish Open by one shot for his fifth victory on the European Tour.
The Swede shot 2-under 70 to finish on 14-under 274, with playing partner Tyrrell Hatton (69) the runner-up at Castle Stuart. Nicolas Colsaerts (66), Danny Lee (69) and Matteo Manassero (70) were two shots back.
Hatton, Colsaerts, Manassero and Richie Ramsay took the final four qualification places for next week's British Open at Royal Troon.
Noren began the day with a two-shot lead, which disappeared after a bogey at No. 8 that left him tied with Lee. The 33-year-old Noren birdied Nos. 12 and 15 to go two shots in front again, and a par at the par-5 last was enough to win.
Round 3 - Alex Noren stretches lead to two shots
July 10, 2016
Alex Noren will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Scottish Open at a rainy Castle Stuart, after birdies at the final two holes on Saturday.
The Swede hit a stunning tee-shot on the par-three 17th hole, before adding a birdie three at the last to reach 12 under par for the tournament.
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, ranked one place above Noren at 98th in the world rankings, had five birdies and an eagle in a six-under-par third round of 66 to sit tied for second alongside Matteo Manassero.
Noren's only win in the last five seasons came last year in the Scandinavian Masters, but after taking a one-stroke halfway advantage, he increased his lead in Scotland.
The 33-year-old had three birdies in his last four holes in the second round, and was similarly impressive in the closing stages on Saturday.
"To birdie the last and to go into tomorrow with a two-shot (lead) was very nice," said Noren.
"All I was trying to do was put in a good round and then deal with the weather that rolled in, but the good thing the course soaked up the rain, while other courses would have flooded.
"The thing is now that anyone who is six or seven under could shoot a good round, so I will be trying to do the same."
Italy's Manassero has plummeted out of the game's elite in recent years, having struggled since his BMW PGA Championship win in 2013 at Wentworth.
Manassero became the youngest European Tour winner in 2010 at the age of 17 years and 188 days in winning the Castellon Masters, but is now ranked 596th in the world and has not had a top-10 finish since the 2014 Scottish Open.
The 23-year-old eagled the sixth and then birdied three holes in succession near the end of his third round to reach 10 under par overall despite also carding three bogeys.
"It's exciting being up high on the leaderboard and with a chance of winning tomorrow, always exciting," he said.
"I playing really well but then I am scrambling well and making some good escapes and that has been the key for these three days.
"So it's even more exciting and I'm very happy, and looking forward to tomorrow."
The top four players in the top 12 this week who are not exempt for the British Open will get invites to Royal Troon for the tournament starting on July 14.
Currently those spots are held by Manassero, Hatton, Justin Walters and Romain Wattel.
There are a host of top players still close enough to Noren to possibly mount a challenge on Sunday.
Former major champions Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer are only four and six shots back respectively, while world number six Henrik Stenson fired a brilliant 66 to get to five under par.
Andy Sullivan, who contended at last week's French Open, is at eight under, while South African Walters is tied for third with Danny Lee three shots behind after a 65, the joint-best round of the day.
Five-time major champion and former Scottish Open winner Phil Mickelson had to settle for a two-under 70 and is tied for 51st place.
Round 2 - Alex Noren takes over halfway lead
July 9, 2016
Sweden's Alex Noren blazed into red-hot form late on to move one shot clear of the field after two rounds of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart on Friday.
Noren, who will celebrate his 34th birthday next Tuesday, could be in for an early celebration after birdies in three of his closing four holes in a bogey-free six-under-par 66 for a total of eight-under-par.
The Monaco-based Noren is no stranger to victory having won four times on the European Tour including last year successfully defending his Nordea Masters crown.
"I was messing around a bit with my swing at the start and then all of a sudden I got a better ball strike over the inward nine," he said.
"Mentally, that is always nice and also it helps my preparation for The Open next week as this golf course is a great test."
New Zealand's Danny Lee (66) and England's Eddie Pepperell (67) share second place just a shot back.
Lee had been due to compete as defending champion in this week's PGA Tour Greenbrier Classic but the tournament was cancelled due to West Virginia floods that resulted in the deaths of 24 people.
In a gesture to help in the recovery of the Greenbrier region, Lee is donating $500 for every birdie and $1,000 for every eagle he scores at the Scottish Open.
To date, Lee has managed 11 birdies over the two rounds and as a result $5,500 will be making its way to the flood relief appeal.
"It's really unfortunate what happened there and hopefully I can make a little difference to the lives of the people affected," he said.
The Irish pair of Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, each with 69s, are very well placed at five under par and McDowell clearly benefitted from spending last weekend, after missing the French Open cut, practising at Royal Troon, home of the Open next week.
"Having spent last weekend at Royal Troon was big for me on a lot of levels, and just like that third shot at the last from 99 yards," said McDowell.
"It was a 9-iron but only 99 yards out and I was working on that very shot at Troon last weekend, and it's just very hard tuning for that shot as you don't see that shot very often."
Former Scottish Open champion Phil Mickelson produced an impressive turnaround in form, including holing his second shot at the par four 16th, in a score of 69 to get back inside the top-50 at one over par.
The five-time Major champion began the second round sharing 89th place and looked to be heading for the weekend off at six over in total after six holes but completed his last dozen holes in five under.
"I was very proud of the way I managed to turn it around, especially after dropping two shots early. But then I got lucky on 16 to make eagle and that turned it around for me," he said.
Round 1 - Scott Hend & Felipe Aguilar share lead
July 8, 2016
Australian Scott Hend and Chile's Felipe Aguilar shot three-under-par 69s to lead the way in the Scottish Open after a windy first round at Castle Stuart on Thursday.
The pair finished one stroke ahead of a group of players including three former major champions, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, Irishman Padraig Harrington and South Korean Yang Yong-eun.
Hend, who has a place in the field for next week's British Open at Royal Troon, relished the challenge of the elements in a round that featured an eagle and three birdies.
"Conditions were quite tough and it was a little bit scrappy with some putts not quite getting to the hole but overall I'm very happy," he told the European Tour website.
"It's awesome fun. Doesn't matter how hard it is. When you play links golf, it's just awesome. It's great."
Britain's former world number one Luke Donald, who found out on Wednesday that he had secured a spot at Troon, shot a solid 71 to lie two shots behind the leaders.
Five-times major winner Phil Mickelson of the United States, a regular visitor to the Scottish Open, struggled to a 76.