Jeev Milkha Singh storms to Scottish Open win

First title in four years, qualifies for British Open

Jeev Milkha Singh of India birdied the first hole of his playoff with Francesco Molinari to win the Scottish Open after a final-round meltdown by local hope Marc Warren on Sunday.

Singh, the son of an Olympic 400-metre runner, holed from 10 feet on No. 18 to claim his fourth victory on the European Tour and earn himself a spot in next week's British Open in the process.

Both players had finished with 17-under totals of 271, with Singh shooting a 5-under 67 - the joint-lowest round of the day - and overnight leader Molinari returning a 72 as he attempted a wire-to-wire victory after a dominant week in the Scottish Highlands.

Warren had been three shots ahead with six holes remaining, but dropped four strokes in the final four holes to tie for third with Alexander Noren of Sweden (70) on 16 under after a fourth round played in the toughest conditions of the week.

By winning his first title in four years and 37 days, Singh not only will climb back into the top 100 but will play at the British Open - staged at Royal Lytham & St. Annes starting Thursday - for the only the second time in his 19-year professional career.

He also won a first prize of 416,660 pounds ($645,000).

Singh came into the final round five shots off the lead but didn't drop a shot, despite a fierce westerly wind that proved too much for top-ranked Luke Donald (73) and Phil Mickelson (74), who both finished tied for 16th on 12 under.

However, it was Warren who will leave Inverness with most regrets.

Watched by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, Warren appeared on the brink of becoming the first home winner of the tournament since Colin Montgomerie in 1999 when he forged the biggest lead of the day by making birdies on the first three holes of the back nine.

Then it all went wrong. He double-bogeyed No. 15 after missing his approach shot to the green and three-putting, before dropping further shots on Nos. 16 and 17. He was consoled off the last green by playing partner Soren Kjeldsen, and looked absolutely distraught.

Warren was also looking to snatch that final British Open qualifying berth, which was available for the highest non-exempt player finishing in the top five.

Noren wasted a chance to make the playoff when he missed a putt on the last from two feet but Molinari, who teed off with a one-stroke lead, drained a par-saving putt on No. 18 to set up a shootout with Singh. His approach to the same hole in the playoff landed at the back of the green and his long putt came up well short, leaving Singh an opportunity he didn't pass up.

His father, Milkha, placed fourth in the final of the 400 at the 1960 Olympics in Rome and the younger Singh said after his round that his dream is to play in the golf tournament at the Rio Games in 2016, when the sport returns to the Olympic program.

Singh went 95 events between his third and fourth victories, having previously won the Austria Open in June 2008.

After three opening rounds of very low scoring, Castle Stuart finally bared its teeth with only six players of the remaining 77 breaking 70. Gusting winds off the Moray Firth played havoc, with two extra clubs needed on many shots, chips falling way short and the thick rough beside the big fairways coming more into play.

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