ALEX Noren acclaimed the biggest win of his golfing career at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Two days short of his 34th birthday, the Swede held his nerve in Sunday’s final round at Castle Stuart to shoot a 70 and finish 14 under par, a shot clear of England’s Tyrrell Hatton.
The leader after round 3, Noren was briefly caught by the chasing pack but was never overtaken, and pulled away in the back 9 to claim the € 644,196 first prize.
“It feels amazing,” he said after his win. “By far the biggest win in my career in a great field of players which I'm really happy about.”
The victory made up for narrowly missing out on a play-off in the same competition at Castle Stuart four years ago.
“I had a really sour finish to 2012. I missed out from four feet to get in a playoff.
“They are really nice up here. They have been great all week, kind of like a second family cheering me on, and to pull through; it's always when you play abroad, you don't have the same support as at home. But here it feels like the crowd is really nice. Everybody is very friendly, cheering us on.”
Hatton, who was fourth in the Scottish Open two years earlier, rolled in a birdie putt on the last for outright second place and the biggest prize of his career at €429,468.
“That was a huge putt. I was really happy to see that one drop. I holed a really good par putt on 17, as well. You know, it's just a good finish to the week I guess.
Nicolas Colsaerts, Danny Lee and Matteo Manassero were a shot further back on 12 under.
A final round 67 saw Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay finish as top Scot on -11, and more importantly gain a slot at The Open along with Colsaerts, Hatton and Manassero by virtue of their top 12 finishes.
Ramsay rolled in four consecutive birdies on 3, 4, 5 and 6 to put himself in contention to win the competition at one stage. But in the end, another birdie at the last guaranteed his place at Royal Troon this week.
“I played to win today, which is a great feeling when you're in that position, home pride, great golf course, striking it well,” he said.
“I just loved it out there. I really thought I had a good chance to win but I'm proud of finishing high and hopefully trying to get a spot.”
American Phil Mickelsen recorded a closing day 66 for seven under, including pitching in on nine for an eagle.
But the round of the week belonged to Englishman, a final round 65 including birdies on 16, 17 and 18 to finish eighth equal.
Inverness born Russell Knox delighted his home crowd with a closing 67 to finish joint tenth on nine-under.
The competition returned to Castle Stuart after a two year absence, and attracted large numbers of golf fans from the Moray area to watch some of the world’s top golfers.