Frantic Van Rooyen charge falls just short

A frantic charge by Erik van Rooyen on Sunday fell just short of being good enough to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open on the European Tour as his closing 65 left him three shots outside the play-off.

He made three birdies in his opening nine – on the fifth, sixth and seventh – before things went a little quiet around the turn. But then he reeled off three birdies in a row from the 11th, before a bogey on the 14th slowed his progress. Two more birdies on 15 and 16 raised his hopes again, but a bogey on 17 put paid to his chances.

Those chances might have been pretty slim, the way Aaron Rai and Tommy Fleetwood were playing. Fleetwood dragged himself into the frame after an even-par opening nine, and getting to the finish with four birdies down the stretch.

But it was Rai’s play, just a week after he came so close in Ireland, that was the eye-opener. He bogeyed the second hole, but then, displaying an ice-cool temperament, he made five birdies ahead of the turn. Three more going home saw him draw level with Fleetwood to force the play-off.

A bogey on the first play-off hole from Fleetwood did no so much gift the tournament to Rai as to confirm the level of his golf over the last fortnight and give him a victory to validate the work he has been putting in.

Van Rooyen’s finish saw him climb 25 places up the leaderboard into a share of sixth, but, coincidentally, he dropped on position to 10th in the Race to Dubai rankings.

Former champion Brandon Stone rounded out a consistent week with his third consecutive score of one-under to finish the tournament at five-under in a share of 19th. Garrick Higgo closed with a two-under 69 for 26th, while George Coetzee carded one-over 72 to end up in 59th.

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