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Callum Shinkwin just couldn't sink one to win Scottish Open

DUNDONALD: Pity poor Callum Shinkwin, whose dual choke at the 18th at Dundonald on Sunday was of almost Greg Norman-esque proportions. Coming down the final hole on five-under for the day, the young Englishman had the Scottish Open as good as won, only to surrender his one-shot lead, open the door to a play-off against a grateful Rafa Cabrera Bello, and ultimately lose the £1m ($1.67m) cheque that accompanies this title.

Watching from the clubhouse after carding an extraordinary course record round of 64, the Spaniard could scarcely have dared to hope that Shinkwin would self-combust and grant him a play-off. Playing with purpose and poise through his final round, Shinkwin had offered Cabrera Bello precious little succour, and if anything he seemed to grow in assurance as his round drew to a close, with his birdie putt on 17 missing by an inch before he nervelessly hammered his drive 325 yards down the final fairway.

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Cabrera-Bello wins Scottish Open

Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello beat England's Callum Shinkwin in a playoff to win the Scottish Open at Dundonald after earlier striking a tournament-record eight-under-par 64.

The 18th is one of the easiest holes on this course and in his previous three rounds Shinkwin had made hay with an eagle, birdie and par.

Yet pressure can make even the most consistent players mentally disintegrate, and Shinkwin certainly does not qualify as that: he has missed the last seven cuts in succession, been disqualified twice and this year earned prize money of just £75,000.

Faced with the biggest moment in his career, the 24-year-old folded. First he put his approach shot 10 yards wide of the 18th green, then almost chipped into the bunker that lay between him and the hole. A nervy putt from just off the green left him a six-footer for the title, only for the Englishman to commit the most heinous of golfing sins, leaving the ball an inch short.

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Waiting for him on the 18th tee as the play-off got under way was Cabrera Bello, a man whose match play expertise was sufficient for him to make the last Ryder Cup team. His 64 included four birdies in each half, so the momentum was clearly with him. Crucially, he had birdied the final two holes, the last a remarkable scramble in which he flirted with a greenside drainage ditch only to conjure a beautiful off-balance chip and run which allowed him to finish with a birdie that kept him within a stroke of Shinkwin.

As the play-off got under way, both players hit the middle of the fairway. Shinkwin, a couple of yards shorter than Cabrera Bello, went first and produced a carbon copy of his previous approach shot at the hole. His rival, by contrast, found the middle of the green, his ball ending up 15 feet short of the pin. Shinkwin's chip was better than his previous effort, but not good enough, and when Cabrera Bello birdied the hole it left Shinkwin needing to hole his putt to take the play-off to a second hole.

Incredibly, he once again left it an inch short. It was the stuff of nightmares for him, and the stuff of dreams for an elated Cabrera Bello, who registered his first win since Dubai in 2016.

"I played some of the best golf of my life today," said the Spaniard. "I had an unbelievable round and then really went for it in the play-off. It must have been frustrating for Callum but I know from experience how difficult it is to close out these events. I feel for him because I've been there."

Shinkwin was trying his best to be as phlegmatic as possible, concluding that "it's been a very good week and at the end of the day I'm more than happy to finish second, although of course the win was on my mind".

He does, however, have two significant consolation prizes. The first is a cheque for £600,000, comfortably the biggest payday of his career. The second, and possibly even more significant silver lining is his qualification for next week's Open Championship.

In fact, the prize of three Royal Birkdale slots for top-ten finishers at Dundonald who had not already qualified ensured that the chasing pack pressed all the way.

Shinkwin will be joined in Southport by Matthieu Pavon, courtesy of a glorious six-under round from the Frenchman, and by Aussie Andrew Dodt, who ended the day tied on eight-under but beats Anthony Wall to the Open by dint of his higher world ranking.

The Telegraph, London