Day 4 Recap
Justin Rose is ready for the Open Championship. In fact, he might be a little too ready.
Rose capped off a masterful week at the 2014 Scottish Open with a six-under 65 on Sunday to finish with an aggregate of 18-under and capture his second victory in as many starts. He defeated a game Kristoffer Broberg by two strokes and had essentially assuaged all doubts about a win by the turn.
Coming into the final round tied with Marc Warren, Rose carded five birdies on the front nine to give himself a three-shot cushion heading into the home stretch. While his hot streak ended following another birdie on the par-five 12th, Rose calmly parred out to leave little doubt who was the premier player in this stacked field.
"It's unbelievable to be back in the winners' circle so quickly but right now I am feeling great," Rose told the European Tour's official website. "I don't feel the two wins have taken a lot out of me. I feel that I've taken it in my stride. The Open is going to come around quickly so tonight is going to be calm and relaxed. I will enjoy the moment but my mind will definitely be back in the game as of tomorrow.
Rose also won two weeks ago in the Quicken Loans National, hosted by Tiger Woods. This is the first time he's won back-to-back tournaments in which he's played. The triumph in Scotland moves Rose into third place in the world rankings.
Warren, who'd carded three straight rounds in the 60s, fell to third place. He was up and down through most of the afternoon, missing birdie chances and having to scramble on the front nine. He carded three birdies against two bogeys to finish 11-under overall.
|2014 Scottish Open Results|
Broberg came roaring into contention with a five-under 66 to narrowly miss out on his first European Tour win. The second-place finish allows Broberg to qualify for next week's Open Championship.
The course overall played soft and engendered itself to low scores Sunday. Fourteen of the top 15 players on the final leaderboard were in the 60s—many of them in the lower end of the spectrum. Stephen Gallacher moved into a tie for fourth place after an eight-under 63, matching a course record that was set just hours earlier by Felipe Aguilar, per Ewan Murray of The Guardian.
Also posting solid rounds were Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, each looking to gather some momentum before Merseyside. After two even-par rounds during the week, Fowler went low each of the last two days to finish in a tie for eighth. Mickelson sandwiched two solid rounds in the first and fourth with mediocrity in the middle.
McIlroy, in typical fashion, undid himself with one poor outing. Take away his second-round 78, and he's 14 under and right in the thick of things. Add that miserable round to the pot, and you get a guy who barely hung onto the top 15. Without much time to fix his game on the fly, McIlroy will have to hope the 75 percent of his performance that was good makes the trip rather than the poor 25 percent.
As for Rose, he'll just want the good times to keep rolling.
Day 3 Recap
Two of the leaders following Friday's second round at the Scottish Open dropped down the leaderboard, but Marc Warren held steady and will hold a share of the lead entering Sunday's final round at 10-under par along with Justin Rose.
Warren shot a four-under 67 Saturday, while Rose put up a five-under 66. That puts them one shot ahead of Kristoffer Broberg, who was tied for the lead prior to the third round. Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard in the wake of the third round from Royal Aberdeen, courtesy of EuropeanTour.com:
|2014 Scottish Open - Day 3 Leaderboard|
|Position||Player||Country||To Par||Round 3|
Although he wasn't in the mix entering the third round, all eyes were on Rory McIlroy. After firing a course record 64 in the first round, McIlroy countered Friday with a seven-over 78. Many wondered if the Northern Irishman's fall from grace would continue, but that wasn't the case.
McIlroy rebounded Saturday with a three-under 68 and finished the day in a respectable tie for 13th. It was a nice comeback for McIlroy after a miserable second round, but perhaps it should have been expected based on this stat courtesy of Golf Channel's Justin Ray:
McIlroy simply struggles in the second round of tournaments, which is largely why he hasn't had as much success as he should. McIlroy will need a huge fourth round Sunday to challenge for the Scottish Open title, but he has a chance to crack the top 10 at the very least.
The biggest American star to take part in the tournament is Phil Mickelson, who had an up-and-down day that resulted in him shooting a one-under 70. Lefty is two-under for the tournament, which places him in a 17th-place tie.
Early in the round it appeared as though Mickelson might make a run toward the leaders. After playing the fifth and sixth holes at three-under par, Mickelson was just a few off the pace, per European Tour on Twitter:
Mickelson faded a bit down the stretch, though, by bogeying two of the final three holes. He is essentially in the same boat as McIlroy at this point and will look to grind out a top-10 finish with a solid fourth round showing.
If Warren is going to win this tournament, then he has plenty to overcome. Rose will pose a stiff challenge and the fact that Rose was able to pull level with Warren might give Rose a mental edge.
Warren could have had the lead all to himself with a par or better on the 18th hole Saturday, but he ultimately carded a bogey, according to AAM Scottish Open on Twitter:
In addition to that, Warren knows what it is like to fall short at this tournament. He narrowly missed a victory in 2012, but he believes that will help him get over the hump this time around, per BBC.
"What happened two years ago was tough to swallow, but it was good experience, and I think in the future will stand me in good stead," Warren said.
There aren't many big names near the top of the leaderboard aside from Warren and Rose, so they will receive much of the focus in the final round. Whichever golfer handles the pressure best will be the one who ultimately hoists the trophy.
Some crazy things have happened during this tournament, so it wouldn't be wise to rule out golfers lurking a few shots off the pace, but Warren and Rose realize it is there for the taking. If one of them plays to the best of their abilities, then they will reign supreme on Sunday.
Day 2 Recap
Rory McIlroy was in imperious form on the opening day of the 2014 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. The Northern Irishman wasn't able to match that level of play in the second round, however, which opened the door for the rest of the field.
McIlroy set the standard in the opening round with an 7-under 64. It was an often brilliant display of shot-making that made him look like a definite contender this week. The same player didn't show up at the course on Friday.
The two-time major champion carded a double bogey, six bogeys and a just a single birdie to erase all of the progress he made on Day 1. He fell back to even par for the tournament by hitting it all over Royal Aberdeen Golf Club one day after showcasing laser-like accuracy.
Jason Sobel of Golf Channel notes the wild swings in scoring aren't new to McIlroy:
|2014 Scottish Open - Day 2 Leaderboard|
The 14-stroke difference is one less than he endured at the Memorial Tournament, which seen him post a 63 in Round 1 followed by a 78 in Round 2.
Journeyman Ricardo Gonzalez did what McIlroy couldn't. He backed up a strong opening round with another solid performance. It was enough to send him into the weekend with a tie for the lead. His last win on the European Tour came at the SAS Masters in 2009.
While that lack of wins is a troublesome sign, he played very steady down the stretch during the second round before a double bogey on 18. As long as he can avoid those type of crucial errors over the next two days, he should remain in the mix at the very least.
Kristoffer Broberg and Marc Warren also handed the tricky scoring conditions well. They are the other golfers tied for first. The only difference is the fact Warren has already earned an exemption for the Open Championship. Broberg hasn't, which puts a little extra pressure on him for the weekend.
Iain McLaughlin of Paddy Power likes the progress he's seen from the Swede:
As for the big name making a move, it was Justin Rose.
The 2013 U.S. Open winner posted a 3-under round of 68 to get into contention. Given his track record compared to the other players near the top of the leaderboard and the rapid fall of McIlroy, he's got to like his chances this week.
Fatiha Betscher of AFP (via Yahoo News) passed along comments from Rose after the round:
I haven't played since I won at Congressional and then I didn't do much practice last week for whatever reason and came here and played absolutely horrendous on Wednesday.
For the last couple of days I have just been trying to find my feel but I got back into gear today and started to see good shots.
Rose won the Quicken Loans National in a playoff his last time out.
Other scores of note after two days include Luke Donald (-2), Matteo Manassero (-1), Phil Mickelson (-1) and Rickie Fowler (E). All of those notable players are still within striking distance if they can put together a couple strong weekend rounds.
It should make for an entertaining finish at Royal Aberdeen.
Day 1 Recap
McIlroy's lead was built via a display of extremely confident golf. McIlroy never shirked the tough shots. He also dealt well with the strong breeze that initially pervaded the Royal Aberdeen course.
Nothing about the conditions bothered McIlroy. He blazed his way to establishing a course record 64, per the tournament's Twitter feed:
That dazzling number has left McIlroy out in front. However, his margin is just one shot in front of Kristoffer Broberg and Ricardo Gonzalez.
Here's how the full leaderboard looks after Day 1:
McIlroy leads the way thanks to his consistency. His scorecard showed eight birdies and just one bogey and he finished his round with a steady run of par over the final four holes.
Alex Myers of Golf Digest couldn't help but wonder about McIlroy's ability to dominate the opening round of tournaments:
|2014 Scottish Open - Day 1 Leaderboard|
|1||Rory McIlroy||Northern Ireland||-7||64|
|4||Michael Hoey||Northern Ireland||-5||66|
As good as McIlroy was, he was almost matched by Kristoffer Broberg. The Swede was unerring on the greens, showing a cool head for a round of 65.
Things were slightly rougher for defending champion Phil Mickelson. The American managed a modest score, ultimately tallying a 68. Mickelson's score was hard-earned, too, as the tournament kingpin often found himself having to dig himself out of trouble amid testing conditions.
This shot from the NBC Golf Channel Twitter feed brilliantly illustrates Mickelson's day:
It was a day that ultimately belonged to McIlroy. The way he strode around the Castle Stuart links revealed his level of confidence ahead of the Open Championship, which starts on July 17.
His putting was measured, his approach work slick, and his drive of more than 400 yards to begin play at the 13th hole particularly stood out.
This type of form has to make McIlroy the favourite for this year's competition. However, McIlroy will know that neither Broberg nor Ricardo Gonzalez will be easily dismissed.
"I'm feeling comfortable with my driver, I'm driving the ball really well, so I feel like if I can get the driver in my hand, you get a little bit of an advantage on the rest of the field," McIlroy said in a TV interview following his round.
Broberg could be McIlroy's biggest threat. The Swede has an obvious affinity with the course and came closest to matching McIlroy's calm authority on Thursday.
As for Mickelson, his day was tough, but the way he battled was admirable. That quality means the current champion can't be counted out just yet.
Still, the rest of the field has a lot of work to do to catch McIlroy based on his early exploits.