No. 1 Luke Donald shoots 63 to win Scottish Open

Luke Donald enjoyed the perfect warmup for next week’s British

Open with a flawless 9-under 63 to win the rain-shortened Scottish

Open by four strokes, his first victory since becoming the world’s

top-ranked player in May.

The 33-year-old Englishman started the third and final round a

shot behind a trio of joint leaders but rolled in nine birdies in a

majestic bogey-free display at Castle Stuart.

With only a light wind leaving the links course defenseless,

Donald romped home with a winning total of 19 under, ahead of

Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed (62).

His eighth professional title – and third this year – didn’t

just cement his top ranking, which he secured for the first time

nearly two months ago by beating compatriot Lee Westwood in a

playoff for the PGA Championship on his last appearance in


It also provided the ideal tonic ahead of the British Open at

Royal St. George’s starting Thursday, where he’ll attempt to land

his first major.

”I felt good out there, very comfortable, very in control.

That’s a good sign for next week,” said Donald, who is half

Scottish and wore Tartan trousers for the final day.

”There’s always a little added pressure when you’re No. 1 but

hopefully I’ve proved I can handle that. It was a pretty strong

field this week and the best way to prepare.”

Andersson Hed, ranked No. 128, began the third round tied for

44th at 5 under, but came from nowhere to overhaul a host of

forlorn chasers behind Donald. His 10-under 62 was the lowest score

of a wet week in Inverness, when Saturday’s play was completely

washed out – reducing the tournament to 54 holes.

”I had gone 48 hours since I played on the golf course. I’d

like to stay here a bit longer,” Andersson Hed said.

British Open hopefuls Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Mark Tullo

of Chile finished in a seven-way tie for third. However, it was the

No. 203-ranked Jamieson who sank a birdie at the last hole to

secure the available qualifying spot for the year’s third major –

by virtue of having a higher ranking than Tullo by 29 places.

”It was the first putt I had all day that I was really

confident on my read, and it just reached the hole,” said

Jamieson, who will play at his first major. ”It’s not registered

yet, to be honest.”

Colin Montgomerie had also been looking to qualify for his home

major for the 22nd straight year but could only card a 70 to finish

in a tie for 31st at 10 under.

The former Europe Ryder Cup captain briefly shared the lead in

the final round after a birdie at the sixth, but dropped four shots

at the start of the back nine to shatter his hopes.

No player has ever won the Scottish Open and gone on to win the

British Open the following week, but Donald – a model of

consistency this year – looks in good position to become the


”I only see this as a positive,” he said. ”I’ll be high on

confidence. I’m hitting the ball nicely and to do it on a links

course is even better. I’m looking forward to bringing this game to

next week.”

Donald completed his second round in overcast conditions early

on Sunday with a second straight 67, giving him a good platform to

make a charge for the title in his first Scottish Open since


He had to hit the ground running in the final round, with

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Scots Peter Whiteford and

Jamieson a shot clear.

Donald did just that with a birdie on No. 3, before draining a

40-footer across the slope on the short fourth to share the


Two more birdies made it four in a row and although he was

briefly joined in front by Tullo, the joint leader from the first

round, the relentless Donald sank a 15-footer to pick up another

birdie on No. 9. He then benefited from a free drop out of a

waterlogged bunker on the 10th fairway to make a sensational


That took him two strokes ahead and he closed with three birdies

over the last four holes, recording three straight rounds in the


”It’s nice to get another victory. I can get used to this,”

Donald said.

Second-ranked Lee Westwood shot a closing 68 and was tied for

14th at 12 under, a stroke behind eighth-ranked Matt Kuchar from

the United States (67). Fellow American Phil Mickelson, ranked No.

6, had a 69 and finished at 7 under.