Few would have predicted Daniel Brooks to be top of the leaderboard going into the final round of the 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Gullane Links.
The Basildon golfer had achieved his maiden professional victory at the 2014 Madiera Islands Open – a co-sanctioned Challenge Tour and European Tour event – which was reduced to 36 holes because of heavy fog and overshadowed by the tragic on-course death of Alastair Forsyth’s caddie, Iain McGregor.
But his 2015 season had been a struggle up until the Scottish Open. He had missed 13 successive cuts before a morale-boosting tied 20th place finish at the French Open the week before Gullane Links.
But Brooks was to find himself right in contention at the East Lothian venue.
Opening rounds of 64 and 65 gave him a three-shot lead at the halfway point, while a third round 69 kept him one stroke ahead of nearest challenger, France’s Raphael Jacquelin.
Hopes of landing the biggest win of his career were to fade on the Sunday with a final round three-over-par 73 to finish tied seventh – three shots behind winner Rickie Fowler.
But his £92,455 prize money was still the biggest cheque of his career and, for Brooks, it is a week he remembers with pride.
He said: “It was a big week for me. I wasn’t doing too great on the order of merit at the time.
“It was a big money event and I enjoyed a decent finish which pushed me right up the rankings and gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the year.
“I hadn’t been in that position too often before. I had won before, but it was only over two rounds. Every time I am in the final group on the last day it is a learning curve.
“It was great fun and a good course.
“Hopefully I can have another good week this time around.
“I played Castle Stuart in 2013 but I didn’t make the cut so hopefully I have a better week this time.”