Adrian Otaegui Wins in Scotland With Final Round of 63
Adrian Otaegui, of Spain, who began the week with a spectacular round of 62, won the inaugural Scottish Championship at Fairmont St Andrews by four shots from England’s Matt Wallace.
On a beautiful autumn afternoon, the Spaniard played some magnificent golf, signing off with a final round of 63 for a winning total of 265, 23 under par. His only dropped shot came at the 10th, but it hardly mattered. He birdied the first, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth to race to the turn in 31, and further birdies came at the 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 18th holes.
He had 10 birdies in his opening round, and a further 10 in his closing 63. In all he had 29 birdies over 72 holes, with six dropped shots.
"This feels really good," he said. "I am really happy with the way I played all week. I started with a great birdie putt on the first and it set me up for the day. I putted great, not just making birdie putts but also some good par saves.
"It feels great to win my first strokeplay event on the European Tour. I have been playing well for several weeks. I didn't know if I was going to win this week but I knew it was coming. I feel very proud to have won in Scotland, at the home of golf. It is very, very special."
Otaegui began the day four shots adrift but enjoyed an incredible eight-shot swing. In many weeks, a closing 71 would have been good enough for Wallace but he was simply overwhelmed by the golf produced by his playing partner.
It was another great week for Aaron Rai, winner of the recent Scottish Open. He finished third after a closing round of 66 and is now in fifth place in the Race to Dubai.
Former Amateur Champion Garrick Porteous will be bitterly disappointed with the way he finished. He was in contention until he dropped two shots at the 16th, and then let another go at the 17th.
The Spaniard won the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play and the Belgian Knockout, but this is his first stroke-play success. A three time Qualifying School and one time European Challenge Tour graduate, Otaegui has now established himself on Tour since being a joint winner of the Q School in 2015.
Wallace had dropped just one shot all week but his tee shot on the first ended up behind a wall and he made a bogey after chipping out sideways. Otaegui holed a 25 footer on the first and birdied from even further out on the par three fifth but it was Porteous who soon reeled in the leader. After both he and Wallace made the most of the short par four fourth with birdies from inside ten feet, Porteous holed an 18 footer on the fifth and made a birdie from 15 feet on the next to make it three in a row.
Otaegui was the only member of the final group to take advantage of the driveable seventh and his birdie from eight feet had him within one. A tee shot to six feet that almost found the hole on the eighth handed him a share as Wallace made a bogey after a poor tee shot, and Otaegui led on his own at the turn as he put an approach shot to 15 feet on the ninth. All three of the leading pack dropped shots on the tenth as Wallace needed a drop off the tee and Oategui and Porteous failed to get up and down, but the leader extended his advantage to two with a tee shot to tap in range at the 11th.
A trio of birdies from the final group after approaches to inside ten feet followed and it truly looked like a three horse race as Otaegui holed a long putt from off the green at the 13th and Porteous made a birdie of his own from seven feet. Porteous failed to get up and down from over the back of the 14th and Otaegui led by three, before he and Poretous both birdied the next after getting inside six feet. Porteous then double bogeyed the 16th after leaving his second shot in the rough and dropped another on the next, with Wallace moving into second after a tee shot to seven feet on the 17th handed him a 71.
Otaegui played it safe down the last but was still able to claim a tenth birdie of the day thanks to a beautiful third. Porteous' late slip saw him sign for a 71 and allowed Rai to take third after a bogey free 66 with gains on the first, third, fourth, seventh, 12th and last.
Paisley carded a closing 68 to sit a shot clear of Frenchman Adrien Saddier and two ahead of England’s Marcus Armitage and Northern Irishman Jonathan Caldwell.
Meanwhile, Jason Kokrak shot a final round of 64 to win the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek by two shots thanks to a magnificent performance on the greens.
“I have played quite a few rounds here at Shadow Creek so I know the greens pretty well, I know the little intricacies of this place. Not like some of the local caddies, but it is definitely a place that I feel comfortable at,” he said.
It was the 35-year-old’s first win in 232 starts and he was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen. “Being 10 years, I definitely had some scar tissue,” he said. "If you're not nervous, you're not alive. I definitely had some nerves going but I think I knew in my own mind that I was going to get it done, it was just a matter of time of me getting out of my own way and letting it happen.”
Kokrak saw his playing partner Xander Schauffele birdie three of the opening five holes to make his push for the lead. He reacted with five birdies of his own in the first eight holes, including four in a row from the fifth to the eighth.
He moved to 19-under with birdies at the 10th and 11th, only to see Schauffele hole a 46-foot putt from the fringe on the par-three 13th, and join Kokrak at the top of the leaderboard, three shots ahead of the rest of the field.
When they came to the famed finish at Shadow Creek, the par-five 16th, par-three 17th and par-five 18th they were still tied. But both found trouble at the 16th had failed to reach the green after three shots. Schauffele couldn’t get up and down from greenside rough. Kokrak did from a greenside bunker.
“I know it's hard to make birdie on 17 because that flagstick has so much undulation near it,” he said. The two made par, leaving just the finishing hole to navigate. Kokrak smashed his drive at the final hole 342 yards into the fairway, a shot he said, “was the biggest key for me.” Schauffele drove into the left rough, effectively ending his challenge.
“He pushed me along just as I was probably pushing him along, making a couple birdies here and there. I think our better ball game would have been pretty decent today,” Kokrak said of the duel between the two. “It was very nice to come up 18 and have a one-shot lead. Xander's a great player, he's eighth in the world or something like that and a proven TOUR winner. To solidify my first win here against a great player like that makes it a little more special.”
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