Weekend winners: Noren triumphant at Castle Stuart and Kofstad off to RioJuly 10, 2016 Golf News
Alex Noren claimed the biggest win of his career at the Scottish Open while fellow Scandinavian Espen Kofstad secured his place at the Olympics in Rio
European Tour: Scottish Open – Alex Noren
The Swede made it five wins on Tour, and all of them having held the 54-hole lead, after closing with a 70 at Castle Stuart. Noren was briefly caught but never overtaken and a birdie at the 15th after a stellar approach gave him a two-shot advantage. Playing partner Tyrrell Hatton birdied the 72nd hole to reduce that to one but Noren’s par was enough.
Hatton’s second place booked him a place in this week’s Open Championship along with Nicolas Colsaerts, Matteo Manassero and Richie Ramsay – Colsaerts came home in 30 for a 66.
Ramsay was looking to become the first Scottish winner of this event since Colin Montgomerie in 1999 and he birdied four on the trot from the 3rd but never really threatened Noren. Danny Lee did though and was tied for the lead after a birdie on the 10th but eventually had to settle for third. The win represents the first time Noren has won in consecutive seasons after his victory in the 2015 Nordea Masters and continues his remarkable comeback after missing most of the 2014 season with wrist injuries.
Former winner Phil Mickelson had a bogey-free 66 to tie for 13th while fellow Major champion Graeme McDowell finished in the top 10.
What Noren said: “This is by far the biggest win of my career, with the quality of players who are here, and on a course like this in Scotland, it’s what I dreamed of growing up.
“I’m just happy it’s over, because it was a tough, tough leaderboard. A lot of guys were 11, 12 and 13 under, so it was not a comfortable win at all. But thinking about it this morning, how much it would mean to me, it felt so far away but now that it’s happened, it just feels unbelievable.
“I changed my driver coming into this week, and it definitely helped a lot. It’s an amazing feeling, and hopefully I can carry this confidence and form into the Open next week.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 10, 2016
Challenge Tour: Slovakia Challenge – Espen Kofstad
The Norwegian needed a top-two finish to book his place at the Olympics and he did it in some style with a play-off win over Romain Langasque.
Kofstead survived a third-round 75 to win for the first time since 2012 and his closing 64 left him at 17 under – he birdied four straight holes from the 2nd before adding another four in the last five holes.
Langasque led for much of the day and could have won with a birdie at the last but a par meant the pair would go to extra holes. The first was halved in par, then Kofstad holed from 10 feet for birdie at the next. The 29-year-old had barely played for the last two years due to a spate of career-threatening injuries.
New Zealand’s Ryan Fox also secured his spot in Rio after shooting a last-round 67 to tie for fourth. His compatriot Mike Hendry has a strong finish in Japan which meant Fox needed to finish seventh or better. Nothing much was happening until he recorded back-to-back eagles at 14 and 15, the latter at the 783-yard par six, the longest hole in Europe.
James Heath, who won in Scotland two weeks ago, finished in third and will now head to Royal Troon full of confidence.
What Kofstad said: “Looking at where I was in November, with shooting pains all down my legs, I didn’t know what was going on, so to do this is amazing.
“It was flat calm and I decided to try to shoot 10 under and see if that was enough, but luckily eight under got me in a play-off. The play-off was nervy, the first hole was really bad. I then settled down a little bit and we had almost the same putt on the second hole, and mine was in all the way.”
European Senior Tour: WINSTONgolf Senior Open – Andrew Oldcorn
Oldcorn beat Paul Broadhurst at the second extra hole for his second win on the Tour having finished a runner-up eight times.
The pair both birdied the 18th in normal time and repeated that in extra holes. Broadhurst, who set a new course record earlier in the day with a 67, then found a fairway bunker with his drive and then failed to locate the green with his third shot, giving Oldcorn two putts to take the title.
Home hope Bernhard Langer eagled the last to take a share of third.
What Oldcorn said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic. The biggest thing for me was keeping my focus. I had a wobble at the start of the back nine and was lucky to get away with just one bogey. I knew when I got to 18 I would have to make birdie, and that was pretty straightforward.
“The first putt I holed in the play-off was symptomatic of how I putted all week. I holed a succession of those 15-footers all week, and it’s what you need to do to win tournaments.