Last Sunday was a ridiculously good day of live television for sports fans everywhere, with football’s World Cup final in Russia being battled out between France and Croatia and tennis’s men’s singles final at Wimbledon seeing Novak Djokovic take on Kevin Anderson, writes Craig Goldthorp.
So I decided to go on an 80-minute car journey to the village of Gullane in East Lothian to follow the final round of golf’s Scottish Open...
But what a good decision it turned out to be, as I witnessed a truly world class spectacle and a historic moment as champion Brandon Stone proved to be as tough as granite (sorry, I couldn’t resist it) as he shot an unbelievable final round of 60 to romp to a comfortable four-shot triumph.
The firm and lightning fast fairways at Gullane meant that, on the downwind holes especially, players were hitting the ball even more prodigious distances than usual.
Sitting in the grandstand behind the 18th green, myself and the rest of the spectators looked on open mouthed as we saw a collosal 430-yard drive by American ace Ricky Fowler finish just short of the green on this 460-yard finishing hole.
Ricky – who is loved by the Scottish galleries – then proceeded to hit the flag with his 30-yard putt before lipping out with his five-foot birdie attempt.
If that was dramatic enough viewing, I was also fortunate enough to see winner Stone making a fantastic eagle three at the 16th, which effectively clinched the tournament for the 25-year-old from Rustenburg.
It was also entertaining watching Stone’s fellow countryman Darren Fichardt, who firstly made a miracle par four at the first hole – despite his second shot from the left rough hitting a large advertising hoarding short left of the green and bouncing back into the rough!
Fichardt had been fuming at his ball unexpectedly hitting the sign, but recovered his composure admirably to chip the ball up and down from 30 yards.
I happened to see the South African again at the ninth hole, where he missed the green to the right with his second shot before proceeding to duff his chip and end up recording a double bogey six.
But seeing mistakes like that were extremely rare, on a day in which the overall standard of play was frighteningly high.
Fichardt’s playing partner Eddie Pepperel shot a brilliant 64 to finish second.
To illustrate just how tough a school it was, Trevor Immelman (yet another South African), started the day just three shots off the lead, produced a flawless 65 and still ended up five strokes behind winner Stone whose total was a 20-under 260!
Top Scot was Stephen Gallacher – whose son Jack was caddying for him – with the Linlithgow-based ace ending up in a tie for ninth place on 13 under.
What a cracking day out it was, apart from just a few gripes from me.
The finish was a little anti climactic in a couple of ways – Stone ended up winning very comfortably and it would have been extraordinary to see him become the first man in European Tour history to shoot 59 rather than missing his eight foot birdie putt on the 18th green.
I was also a bit disappointed by the catering stalls (maybe I was just unlucky with the ones I chose!).
The fish and chip van I went to had run out of fish and the chips I got were the very last ones there, with several literally scraped from off the bottom of the barrel.
The lack of fish meant I went to the burger van next door.
There was a delay of several minutes waiting for fresh burgers to be booked, and when I finally got one it would be slighty stretching plausibility levels to describe this meal as “succulent and delicious”.
Other than that though, what a day!