IRVINE, Scotland (AP) — Rafa Cabrera Bello needed the best round of the week and one of the best shots of his life to end his 5½-year wait for a victory on Sunday.
A 72nd-hole meltdown from Callum Shinkwin helped, too, at the Scottish Open.
On another signature day for Spanish golf in 2017, Cabrera Bello followed up an 8-under 64 — a course record at Dundonald Links — with a birdie in a sudden-death playoff against Shinkwin to win his third European Tour title.
He set up the birdie with a 3-wood to 8 feet from 275 yards on his second shot at the par-5 18th, having nearly found a burn running alongside the green with a similar shot in regulation play.
“I executed it perfectly,” Cabrera Bello said. “One of the shots of my life.”
Shinkwin, an unheralded Englishman ranked No. 405, left western Scotland with a spot in next week’s British Open and the belief that he can compete with the game’s best players.
And probably bad memories of the 18th hole at Dundonald Links.
Shinkwin started the final round in a share of the lead with Ian Poulter and Andrew Dodt, and led by a shot going down the last for the first time Sunday. Needing only a par to be assured of victory, he sent his second shot left and behind a greenside bunker, before chipping short of the green and seeing his ball roll back down beside the bunker.
From just off the green, he rolled a putt to 4 feet and left his par putt two inches short. He laughed and held his face in his hands, knowing he had dropped into a playoff with his only bogey in a round of 68. Shinkwin and Cabrera Bello finished on 13-under 275 overall.
Returning to the 18th for the playoff, Shinkwin was first with his second shot and put it exactly where he did about 30 minutes earlier. His chip shot over the bunker was only slightly better and he left his birdie putt agonizingly short again.
“It’s all a learning curve and obviously if you win, you have to have luck on your side. It wasn’t there for me,” Shinkwin said.