Immelman Takes Four-Shot Lead with Career-Best 64
Argentina's Eduardo Romero collected seven birdies and one bogey for a 66. He suffered his lone mistake on the 18th hole and dropped into a share of second place at eight-under 136 with defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal (67) and Jean-Francois Remesy (69).
Immelman posted eight birdies Friday, four over his last five holes. He knocked a seven-iron stiff from 170 yards out at the island green 15th, tapping in for birdie to break into double-digits under par.
'I would rank that as the best shot I have hit in my career so far,' he said. 'It was a knock-down fade seven-iron. I naturally draw the ball so it was a shot that is not the easiest for me to play so when I pulled it off it was something special.
'The 15th is surrounded by water and the pin is cut tight. You are standing over it and all you see is water. To pull that shot off gave me a lot of confidence.'
After adding a birdie at the 17th, Immelman hit his second shot to 15 feet at the par-five closing hole then just missed the eagle attempt that would have tied the course record.
Instead he settled for another birdie and a 64, the best round of his short career on the European Tour.
Immelman shot 65 three times in 2001, his first full season on the European Tour. A victory at the Tusker Kenya Open on the 2000 Challenge Tour helped earn him a spot in the big leagues in '01, and he also captured the 2000 Vodacom Players Championship on the Southern Africa Tour.
Although Immelman won the South African Amateur Championship in 1997, that same year he lost in three other amateur finals: the British Amateur at Royal St. George's, the New Zealand Amateur, and the U.S. Junior at Aronimink.
A year later he won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Torrey Pines in Southern California.
Immelman has begun working with Claude Harmon, son of Butch Harmon, who coaches Tiger Woods and a number of other big-name players. The younger Harmon has tried to correct his student's tendency to overswing, and the result has brought more consistency to Immelman's game.
Immelman hopes to soon take his place among the growing list of young guns who have taken the golf world by storm in recent years.
'You have Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Nick Dougherty playing well and Charlie Howell and all the guys in the States, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, the list goes on forever, not forgetting Sergio [Garcia] who is top-five in the world,' Immelman said. 'Over the span of my career those are the guys I am going to be playing against over the next 10 or 15 years.'
New Zealand's Stephen Scahill (65), Scotland's Andrew Coltart (66) and Malcolm Mackenzie (69) of England were together at seven-under par, one shot ahead of Englishman Gary Evans (67) and Swedes Carl Pettersson (68) and Marten Olander (71).
Colin Montgomerie, who won the Open de France the last time it was contested at Le Golf National in 2000, shot an even-par 72 Friday. He was part of a five-way tie for 11th at minus-five.
Friday's play was suspended for one hour and 25 minutes due to torrential rain.
Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal
Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.
Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.
Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.
"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."
Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:
Disappointing. Clearly misunderstood my explanation. pic.twitter.com/YcKHMPf2v7— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 15, 2018
Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.
Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker
A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.
The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.
There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.
But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.
As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.
This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.
Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie
There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.
Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.
Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.
Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.
The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.
Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.
Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field
Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.
Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.
Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:
Sorry...really tried these last 2 days to compete & walk, my rt knee osteoarthritis is unbearable. It would have been nice to have gotten a cart but unfortunately was turned down by our tour board. I couldn’t even hit balls this am!— John Daly (@PGA_JohnDaly) July 14, 2018
This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.
Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.
The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.