GULLANE, Scotland — Brandon Stone knows how to break out of a mini slump. Just shoot 60 at Gullane Golf Club in the final round to win the $7 million Aberdeen Investments Scottish Open by four shots over England’s Eddie Pepperell.
Oh, and come close to making European Tour history in the meantime.
The 25-year-old’s third European Tour victory was special since it came on a links and in a Rolex Series event, but it could have been extra special. He had a chance to become the first player to shoot 59 on the European Tour.
The one-time Texas player began the final round three shots off the lead but stormed into contention when he reached 10-under par for the round after eagling the 16th hole. It moved him to 20-under for the tournament. He was on 59 watch.
He parred the 17th and then hit his approach shot to 8 feet on the last. He had that that distance to get into the record books. Stone missed and sank to his knees in agony.
“Obviously to walk away with 60 having missed an eight-footer was a slight disappointment, but I won’t really complain,” he said.
“It was incredible today. It was just one of those days where everything went right. I hit it spectacularly. Drove the ball really well. Managed the emotions really well too. There were moments during the round when I knew it was going to be my week. That putt on 16 was really special.
“I walked onto the 18th green. Managed to do the mathematical equation in my head and turned to my caddie (Teagan Moore) and went ‘Oh.’ He said ‘Yeah, we’ve got a shot at it.’”
Stone is the 19th player to shoot 60 in a European Tour event, and the first since Peter Uihlein at Kingsbarns in the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The Pretoria native arrived in Scotland after a poor season. He’d made just seven of 16 cuts. He was 144th on the money list with just under $173,000. His best place was T-22 in the Trophée Hassan II.
A change of putter helped get his mojo back. Stone put a blade putter in his bag, the sort of putter that had made him an amateur sensation and earned him a place at Texas as a teammate of defending British Open champion Jordan Spieth.
“From the moment I started rolling it on the putting green I knew that’s the way it needs to be in order to compete,” Stone said. “I putted spectacularly after that.
“The last few months it felt so close, it really has. It just clicked. This game has a way of kicking you down and raising you up and right now I feel on top of the world.”
Stone took home $1.16 million for the victory and the bonus prize of a spot in this week’s British Open along with Pepperell and third-place finisher Jens Dantorp of Sweden as the three players inside the top 10 not exempt for Carnoustie. Gwk