Singh wins Scottish Open in playoff, Mickelson and Donald tie for 16th

Jeev Milkha Singh at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open
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Jeev Milkha Singh shot a final-round 67, then birdied the first playoff hole for his fourth European Tour victory on Sunday at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
By news services

Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012 | 2:25 p.m.

INVERNESS, Scotland -- Jeev Milkha Singh of India birdied the first playoff hole against Francesco Molinari to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and earn a spot in next week's British Open.

Singh, the son of an Olympic 400-meter runner, knocked in a 12-footer on No. 18 Sunday for his fourth victory on the European Tour.

Phil Mickelson, up into the top five after a 64 and 65, closed with a 74 to drop down into a tie for 16th, where he was joined by Luke Donald (73) and Padraig Harrington (71).

Both playoff participants finished regulation play at 17-under 271, with Singh shooting a final-round 5-under 67, and third-round leader Molinari -- the brother of 2010 Scottish Open champion Edoardo Molinari -- shooting 72.

Local favorite Marc Warren was three shots ahead at one point in the final round, but dropped four strokes over the final four holes and tied for third with Alexander Noren of Sweden at 16 under. The 31-year-old Glaswegian double-bogeyed the 15th, then bogeyed the next two for a 1-under-par 71.

"I might need a little help to get to sleep tonight," said Warren, whose collapse also saw him miss out on a place at the Open. Asked if devastated was the right word to describe how he felt, he managed a smile and replied: "Not quite yet. I am sure it will.

"It's going to be disappointing watching the Open (an event he has failed to qualify for 10 times). I had it in my hands."

After playing the first 14 holes in a brilliant 5 under par in the first windy conditions of the tournament, it all started to go horribly wrong for Warren on the 423-yard 15th. He faced a 15-foot par putt after finding rough off the tee, but three-putted it for double bogey.

His next drive found the gorse and after a penalty drop led to a bogey 5, then he chipped far too strongly on the short 17th and let yet another shot go. Suddenly he needed to birdie the par-5 last to be in the playoff, but into the wind he needed three to find the green and then missed from 25 feet.

Noren was equally gutted minutes earlier as he had taken a bogey 6 there to finish one behind Singh.

Singh had set an early target of 17 under with a 67, and overnight leader Molinari then forced sudden death by holing a nine-foot par putt on the last for a 72.

Molinari, who started with a course-record 62, and led after the second and third rounds as well, required a closing birdie to win and so emulate his brother Edoardo. But he left himself having to hole from nine feet to keep his title hopes alive. He made that, but he could not match Singh's four when they played the hole again.

Singh was assured of the Open spot going into sudden death because Molinari was already exempt for Royal Lytham. It will be only his second appearance in the event. He missed the cut at Carnoustie five years ago.

"I just love links golf," Singh said, although he had a different opinion when he first experienced it as a 16-year-old in 1988. That was for the qualifying rounds of the British Amateur at Royal Porthcawl and also Pyle and Kenfig. He shot 87 and 84.

Singh birdied four of the first six holes, then added another on the 363-yard 10th and parred in. It looked like three-putting the 337-yard 16th after driving the green and leaving a 14-foot attempt on the last short of the hole would cost him.

But then came Warren's collapse.

Molinari finished runner-up for the second week running. Victory would have taken him from 10th to second in the Ryder Cup standings. He is still looking good, though, as he is up to fourth.

"I was just enjoying a cup of tea and some chocolate cake and watching it on television -- and suddenly got excited," Singh said. "I think God has been kind. I think the field came back and I'm very fortunate."

His second Open comes after some worrying back trouble.

"It's been really tough, but I just stuck in there and worked on the physical side. Everything has paid off."