On a blustery final afternoon, England’s Marco Penge refused to be blown off course and claimed his biggest title in the game – the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship.
The 17-year-old won by a shot over the Lossiemouth links at Moray and said afterwards: “It’s my first win in a national men’s event and it’s a bit of a different feeling walking down the last.
“I was a bit nervous on the last green – but now I feel good!”
The win has also boosted his Walker Cup hopes and Penge, from Golf at Goodwood, said: “I’ve put my name forward, I’m giving it a good chance.”
Penge, an England boy international and member of the England Golf boys’ squad, was in contention throughout the championship. After a first round 69 – two-under – he was two behind the leaders; after a second 69 he shared the lead at the halfway stage. But he wasn’t happy – he headed to the range for a practice session and came away feeling good for today’s final 36 holes.
This morning he had a bogey-free round of four-under 67 to get to eight-under and take a one-shot lead into the final round. Then, he had to battle as the wind whipped across the renowned Old Course: “Conditions were really tough this afternoon,” said Penge.
There were a host of leading names in the hunt for the title on a classy leaderboard, but Penge showed great tenacity to keep them at bay, helped by a decisive eagle at the par-5 17th. He closed with a two-over-par 73 for a six-under par winning total.
Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson, in the provisional Walker Cup squad ahead of September’s clash with the US at Royal Lytham, finished as runner-up on five under after a brave bid, with another Walker Cup squad man, Ireland’s Cormac Sharvin, taking third spot a stroke further back.
Robertson, who posted a brilliant 66 in round three helped by a chip-in for an eagle two at the 9th, was bidding to become the first Scots winner since 2008 but came up just short.
Penge – who won the Peter McEvoy Trophy earlier this season and will rise from his world amateur ranking of 280 – joins an impressive list of past champions. They include victorious Ryder Cup captains Bernard Gallacher and Colin Montgomerie, as well as current European Tour stars Stephen Gallacher, Richie Ramsay, Tommy Fleetwood and Andrew Sullivan.
Caption: Marco Penge on his way to the title (image © Scottish Golf Union/Kenny Smith)