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Singh sees off Molinari to seize Scottish Open crown

updated 8:09 AM EDT, Mon July 16, 2012
Jeev Milkha Singh cradles the Scottish Open trophy after beating Italy's Francesco Molinari in a playoff on Sunday
Jeev Milkha Singh cradles the Scottish Open trophy after beating Italy's Francesco Molinari in a playoff on Sunday
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jeev Milkha Singh overturns five-shot deficit to claim Scottish Open title at Castle Stuart
  • Overnight leader Francesco Molinari finishes second after forcing playoff with birdie at last
  • Singh's fourth European Tour victory also earns him a place at Open Championship
  • Zach Johnson wins PGA Tour's John Deere Classic to also earn place at Royal Lytham

(CNN) -- Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh claimed his fourth European Tour career title on Sunday after winning a playoff against Italy's Francesco Molinari at the Scottish Open.

The 40-year-old snatched victory with a birdie at the first extra hole to overhaul Molinari, who had started the final round at the Castle Stuart Golf Links with a one-stroke lead.

The win also means Singh has booked a place at the Open Championship which starts on Thursday.

"I think God has been kind, and I think the field came back and I put myself in a position to go in for a playoff -- I'm very fortunate," Singh said on the European Tour website.

Singh has struggled with frustrating back problems in recent years.

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"You feel like your game is coming back and another injury creeps up, but I just stuck myself in there and said that you need to work on the physical side, and I worked hard on that," he said.

"Everything has paid off, and I just want to think about the good things and not what's past and I want to look towards the future now."

Singh started the day five shots off the lead but clawed his way back into contention with a five-under-par round of 67 to finish the tournament on 17 under.

Molinari shot a final-round 72, securing a playoff with a birdie at the 72nd hole.

But the Italian couldn't repeat the feat on the same green a few minutes later, leaving his birdie putt short before Singh holed out from 15 feet to claim the €518,046 ($635,000) first prize.

Molinari, who also finished runnerup at last weekend's French Open, will be hoping he can go one better at Royal Lytham & St. Annes next week.

Earlier, Scotland's Marc Warren had held a two-stroke lead with three holes to play, but a three-putt contributed to a double bogey at the 16th which he followed with a bogey at the 17th.

He would eventually finish joint-third with Sweden's Alexander Noren (70) on 16 under par.

England's Matthew Baldwin finished a shot further back on 15-under par tied with Soren Kjeldsen from Denmark and France's Thomas Levet.

American Phil Mickelson had a disappointing final round of 74, dropping back to tie for 16th.

The four-time major champion was in good company though. England's world No. 1 Luke Donald (73) finished the tournament on the same total, as did Ireland's Padraig Harrington (71) -- who will be looking to win a third Open Championship after his back-to-back successes in 2007 and 2008.

American golfer Zach Johnson earned a place the British Open after winning the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic in a playoff against Troy Matteson, who will also line up at Royal Lytham.

Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion who tied for 16th at Royal St. George's last year, won on the second hole with a birdie after a remarkable approach shot from the bunker.

The 36-year-old, who is on the board of directors for his home tournament, surged into the lead with a six-under 65 on Sunday but Matteson -- who had led from the first round -- made up for a double bogey at 15 as he eagled 17 and forced the playoff with his 69.

Matteson, who will make his British Open debut, has lost two of his three playoffs on the American circuit. His only victories have both come at the Las Vegas Fall Series event now run by Justin Timberlake.

Steve Stricker missed out on becoming only the fifth player to win a PGA Tour tournament four successive times, finishing tied for fifth.

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