World number one Luke Donald warmed up for The Open with his third victory of the year — and what a win it was.
Donald shot the lowest round of his European Tour career, a sparkling nine-under-par 63, to take the Barclays Scottish Open by four shots at Castle Stuart near Inverness.
Playing in the land of his father and marking the fact by wearing tartan trousers, the 33-year-old English star dominated the rain-shortened event on the final day.
It was his second successive triumph in Europe and now he will try to put the icing on the cake — at Sandwich — by capturing his first major title next Sunday.
“It's nice to get another victory — I can get used to this,” he said. “To do it on a links is even better and when I play well I tend to do reasonably well the next week.
“This was perfect preparation. It doesn't get any better than going out and winning the week before. I'm going to be high on confidence.”
After Saturday's wash-out cut the tournament from 72 to 54 holes, Donald first of all had to play half of his second round starting at 7am and did that in three under par to close the gap on the leaders from four to one.
Then he went out again after lunch and left the rest for dead, taking the £500,000 first prize with a 19-under-par total of 197.
With Lee Westwood coming only joint 14th, Donald also stretched his lead at the top of the rankings.
And it is such a gap that Rory McIlroy — next week's favourite following his amazing US Open win — cannot now go to number one even if he lands back-to-back majors.
Runner-up was Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed after he burst out of the pack with a best-of-the-week 62, while in a seven-way tie for third Scotland's Tour rookie Scott Jamieson was the happiest man.
That was because a 10-foot birdie putt on the last gave him the one Open spot on offer, Colin Montgomerie having failed in his bid by slumping to 31st after an early burst had taken him into the joint lead.
In just seven European Tour-counting starts this season Donald has now earned a staggering £2.85million.
That works out at an average of almost £410,000 per week and his career earnings on the circuit alone — he also has victories in America to his name — could go through the £10million mark this coming week.
So much for suffering “Luke Donald Disease”, the label given to him by an American writer just two years ago because he kept coming up short in big events.
He still has not won a major yet, though, and on his last appearance at Sandwich in 2003 he shot 76 and 79 to miss the cut by five.
Westwood, in contrast, was in a rage at the end over the lie he got just over the final green.
He thought he might be putting from close range for eagle, but instead had to settle for par and a 68 that left him seven adrift.
Portrush’s Graeme McDowell was one of four leaders with a round to go but shot a 74 after putting two balls in the gorse on the long 12th and running up a quadruple bogey.
He finished eight behind Donald and only 42nd.