07 Jul 19
Scott Henry, the last man into the field, won the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open qualifier after beating overnight leader Calum Hill in a play-off at sun-soaked Longniddry.
It was mission accomplished for the pair, as well as Chris Doak and Kris Nicol, as they secured four spots up for grabs in next week's $7 million Rolex Series event at The Renaissance Club.
Henry, who only got into the field last Wednesday on a sponsor's invitation after Connor Syme withdrew, clinched his fourth Scottish Open appearance in style in the 36-hole shoot-out on the East Lothian coast.
The 32-year-old, who won the 2012 Kazakhstan Open on the Challenge Tour before finishing second in the Madeira Islands Open on the European Tour three years later, carded a brilliant seven-under-par 61 in the second round.
That earned him a share of the course record, which had been set earlier in the day by 20-year-old Auchterarder amateur Rory Franssen after Hill's opening 62 had matched the score shot by Torwoodlee's Mike Thomson in the 2008 Longniddry Open.
Henry's blistering effort gave him a 10-under-par 126 total, which Hill matched as the 24-year-old Gleneagles Hotel-player birdied two of the last four in his 64 on the second day.
With his wife and fellow professional Kylie watching on, Henry clinched a £5,000 top prize as he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt to stay alive at the opening extra hole after Hill had hit his approach to six feet then converted a 15-footer as they played the 18th for a second time.
"Being a Scot and a proud Scot, it means a lot to be back playing in the Scottish Open, which is a massive event with massive prize-money and a great tournament," said a beaming Henry, who made the cut in both 2013 and 2014 before making an early exit two years ago.
"I'm playing this year without any sponsors and, though qualifying doesn't mean I am guaranteed to win any prize-money next week, it is a great opportunity for me to turn things around."
It was also mission accomplished for Hill, who made the cut in last year's US Open at Shinnecock Hills but reckons a debut appearance in his home Open is probably more exciting.
"That's the most important part done," he said of qualifying, having come up agonisingly short in his first attempt at the same venue 12 months ago. "It will be the second biggest tournament I have played in but probably the most important to me, so it is brilliant."
Doak, who shot rounds of 63-64 to finish third on nine-under, echoed that view as he savoured playing at his home club alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, having been attached to The Renaissance Club for two-and-a-half years.
"Getting through to next week was the goal - I just wanted to be playing at The Renaissance Club in front of the members," said the 41-year-old former Northern Open champion.
"It is great to be associated with such a fantastic facility and I am lucky that Jerry and the other members of the Savardi family support me."
Nicol birdied the last to finish on eight-under, securing the fourth and final spot and deny Duncan Stewart, last year's winner, Daniel Young and Ryan Campbell a play-off chance after they all sat on seven-under in the clubhouse.
It was a second success in the event for Nicol, who also progressed in the Lossiemouth qualifier three years ago to tee up at Castle Stuart.
"It is brilliant, magic and awesome," said the 32-year-old, who is attached to Dunes Golf Centre in Fraserburgh, after hitting a 9-iron from154 yards to a couple of feet for his decisive birdie.
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Scott Henry beats overnight leader Calum Hill in a play-off at sun-soaked Longniddry
07 Jul 19