Rory McIlroy finished in the pack at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and admitted he must sharpen up around the greens to be ready for The Open.
Pleased with his week’s work, he closed with a two-under 69 to finish tied for 34th on 13-under at the Renaissance Club — nine shots outside a playoff that saw Austria's Bernd Wiesberger edge out Frenchman Benjamin Herbert with a par at the third extra hole.
"I didn't judge the lies around the greens very well this week, that's just getting used to links golf again,” McIlroy said. "So if I can just sharpen that up and sharpen up those little shots around the greens I'll be right there."
As for ending his five-year major drought this week, he added: "If I'm being honest, it would obviously mean the world to me.
"But just like winning Hoylake meant the world to me, as well. Just getting my hands on that Claret Jug again would be a huge accomplishment."
Herbert shot 62 to set the target at 22-under but missed a three-footer for a winning par on their second trip down the 18th and then three-putted on their third visit as Irish Open runner-up Wiesberger made par to secure the €1.16 million top prize.
“I knew it wasn't going to come easy for me,” said Wiesberger, who tied for second behind Jon Rahm at Lahinch. “I had a great, great warm-up this morning, flushing the ball.
“It just got a little tough out there for me. I just dug in there. Obviously I would have loved to seal it off with a couple of pars coming in, but sometimes it just tests you. A great week from Benjamin. He could have just snatched it off me on the first two holes, as well, and just very grateful for how it turned out for us this week.
“I wasn't in this tournament eight days ago. You know, I had a great week in Ireland and sealed my spot, and what a week this is. Just take a lot of confidence out of the last two weeks into the final major this year.
“I've always enjoyed coming to the links, Scottish links, and I've had nice success here in Scotland and it's just really, really nice to be able to stand here with the trophy at the end of the day. It was a long day, but somehow managed.”
it was his second title of the season after Made in Denmark in May and he now moves to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
Herbert had to settle for one of three exemptions into The Open alongside Andrew "Beef" Johnston, who shot 62, and Italian Nino Bertasio after they finished a shot behind France’s Romain Langasque in a five-way tie for fourth with the already exempt Henrik Stenson, Andrew Putnam and Andrew Pavan. Scores
"I was looking for The Open spot, for sure I was chasing this spot, so I'm happy, first,” Herbert said.
“I’m very happy as next week will be my first Major Championship as a professional. It was a goal for me actually this season to play in a Major. I played in The Open in 2008 but I was an amateur. It was a long time ago
“I played Royal Portrush in the 2012 Irish Open and it is a tough course. A lot will depend on the weather conditions next week. I’m playing really good and hitting the ball quite well so we will see how I can do. It is a different style of golf. I like the ocean, actually, as I surf a little bit and I’m happy on links golf courses.”
Johnston, who wrote a European Tour player blog recently detailing his mental health struggles, said: “It’s a great feeling to qualify for The Open as I love to be playing in the big events. It’s such a special championship. I have great memories from it as well so I can’t wait to be playing in it again and have a crack at it next week.
“I know I can play well on links courses and in The Open. We play so many links venues as junior golfers so it is always nice to come back and play some links as a professional. It is going to be a fantastic week, as The Open always is, and being at Portrush it is going to be special.
“Today was one of those good days when the putts dropped. I was never really thinking about shooting 59, I was just having fun out there. I had a good chance for birdie on 17 after I hit a good putt and just misread it slightly but 59 didn’t really cross my mind too much. I was just trying to maintain the same mindset and have fun.”
Bertasio said: “I’m delighted. It’s been a great week and I now play in my first Major and my first Open. I’m really excited for next week.
“I knew the leaderboard was really tight, it was really bunched, so I knew a small mistake could have cost me. I just tried to do as best I could and it feels so good to do it.
“I think the par on the 17th was crucial as I didn’t leave myself in a good spot but I was happy to get up and down and make par. I’ve heard nice things about Royal Portrush. As a kid growing up, I wouldn’t miss watching The Open. It is probably the best Major for me and my favourite championship.”
On the PGA Tour, Seamus Power missed a golden opportunity to wrap up his PGA Tour credentials as South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli shot 64 to win the John Deere Classic and a spot in The Open. Scores
Tied for 11th at halfway, Power crashed to a 75 in the third round and then closed with a two-under 69 to finish tied for 61st on six-under-par.
With jut three regular-season events remaining, he fell from 130th to 135th in the FedExCup standings with only the top 125 guaranteed full playing privileges.
Cormac Sharvin leapt to seventh in the race for 15 European Tour cards after he shot weekend rounds of 65 and 69 to finish fifth on seven-under in the Challenge Tour's Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge, four strokes behind England's Steven Tiley. Scores
In Ohio, Stephanie Meadow closed with a four-under 67 in the Marathon Classic to tie for 11th behind Sei Young Kim and claim her best LPGA Tour finish for nearly three years and her first cheque in seven starts.
She finished eagle-birdie to finish on nine-under par at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, earning $26,717 to move up 21 places to 111th in the season standings.
On the Staysure Tour, Paul McGinley was left to rue two double bogeys on his back nine as he finished tied 20th behind José Manuel Carriles in the European Tour Destinations Senior Classic at PGA Catalunya’s Stadium Course.
Up to third after a three-under par outward nine, he came home in 40 for a 73 to finish 11 stokes behind the winner, who posted a five under par 67 to secure his maiden Staysure Tour win on home soil. Scores
Des Smyth tied for 42nd with Brendan McGovern and Philip Walton joint 44th.