LONDON (Reuters) - Rickie Fowler paid tribute to his good friend Phil Mickelson after capturing the Scottish Open title at Gullane on Sunday to lift his morale before this week’s British Open at St Andrews.
Fowler, 26, birdied three of his closing four holes in a final round of 68 to win by a stroke on 12 under par.
This year’s Players Championship winner set up only his second victory outside the United States and his fourth as a professional with a wedge shot to two feet for birdie on the final hole.
Fowler was the second American in two years to capture the Scottish title after Mickelson won at Castle Stuart in 2013 before claiming a first Open Championship at Muirfield.
”I had breakfast with Phil this morning and he made sure I was well aware what he had done two years ago in winning the Scottish Open and then The Open, so I told him I would try and take care of the first leg of it, so I got that done,” Fowler told reporters.
“Phil has always been a role model to me and a huge help, and someone I love spending time with on and off the golf course.
“I have learned a lot from Phil as he is a great professional.”
Victory will take Fowler to a career-high world number five and renewed thoughts of challenging the game’s top-two ranked players in Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
“I am very excited to win the Scottish Open and hopefully it will move me forward and to having a great week at St Andrews, and you never know that down the road there could be some good tussles with me, Rory and Jordan.”
Fellow American Matt Kuchar (68) and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin (70) shared second place on 11-under par.
Jacquelin, England’s Daniel Brooks and Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg earned places in the Open Championship by finishing in the leading three in the top-10 finishers not already qualified for The Open.
Brooks, who led on day two and three, carded a round of 73 to share seventh place on nine under par and set up his first Open appearance.
“Overall it’s been a great week as I’ve played some lovely golf,” Brooks said.
“But then I have scrambled like you would not believe over the last two days, and to get a final spot for The Open, I’m over the moon.”
Karlberg, who shared 10th place at eight under par, secured his spot in a first Open and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay also qualified for the third major of the year following the withdrawal of South African Tim Clark due to visa issues.
Editing by Ed Osmond