South Africa’s Brandon Stone came agonisingly close to becoming the first European Tour player to shoot a 59 as he claimed the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane yesterday.
Stone’s final 10-under-par round of 60 – which beat the Gullane composite course record set by Japan’s Hideto Tanihara in Friday’s second round – saw him finish 20-under-par for the tournament, four shots ahead of Englishman Eddie Pepperell.
The victory was Stone’s third European Tour triumph, as he claimed the £877,000 prize in East Lothian.
It could have been even better for the 25-year-old however, as he missed an eight-foot birdie putt at the par four 18th which would have secured his place in the history books.
Stone said: “It’s incredible. If I’m going to be brutally honest, I had no idea what my score was until I walked on the 13th green.
“It was just one of those days where everything went well, hit it great, holed some beautiful putts, and obviously to walk away with 60 having missed an eight-footer was a slight disappointment, but I won’t really complain.
“I didn’t even know what the scores were. My caddy had banned me from looking at any score boards, and every time my eyes would wander that way he would quickly grab my attention, but walking on to the 18th green, I took a look and saw it.
“I looked at him and he looked at me and said we’ve got to putt for this. I told him to read it, but I hit it over his mark and he criticised my lack of pace, so that’s why it went a little bit low.
“We will still settle with the 60 though.”
Stone dedicated his victory to South African golf stalwart Dan Sevel, the tournament director of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, who died last week.
The triumph secures Stone’s place at this week’s Open Championship at Carnoustie, which results in a swift change of plan, as he added: “I had actually been planning on hiring a car and going on a whisky tour in Islay this week, but I would rather be playing at the Open Championship.
“Knowing I was the best player in Scotland this week is something that’s very close to my heart.”
Pepperell was pleased with his effort in finishing 16-under-par for the tournament, but acknowledged he had been well beaten by Stone.
The 27-year-old also qualifies for the Open, and he said: “The only consolation was 18-under wouldn’t have been enough, and while I maybe could have beaten that, it would have been some round of golf.
“On the whole, I hit the ball great. I felt I did everything good today. Just what can I say really? Just obviously fell a bit short, but there’s certainly a lot more positives than negatives.”
American Luke List was one of three players to finish a shot further behind Pepperell on 15-under-par for the tournament, along with Sweden’s Jens Dantorp, who took the third Open place on rankings ahead of Trevor Immelman.
List, who had already qualified for Carnoustie, dedicated his performance to his late father Mark, and he said: “I was over here a dozen years ago and had a fantastic trip with my parents, and my dad passed away three years ago.
“It’s definitely special memories with him over here and we were able to spread some of his ashes around different parts of the area, which really meant a lot to me and my mum and my wife now, and he was a fantastic guy.
“He loved Scottish golf and I know he’s looking down and smiling right now.”