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Rafa Cabrera-Bello said he played some of the best golf of his life en route to his first European Tour title for more than five years.

The Spaniard earned his way into extra holes with Callum Shinkwin at the Scottish Open after a scintillating bogey-free eight-under-par 64 – the round of the week – to give himself a 13-under-par total.

From there, he seized control. After both players obliterated their tee shots on the par-5 18th, the Spaniard hit a 275-yard approach to 12ft which young Englishman Shinkwin had no answer for.

“I felt like I played some of the best golf of my life today,” said Cabrera-Bello. “I had an unbelievable day and I really went for it on the play-off. So extremely pleased that today everything worked out my way.

“And that second shot on 18 was one of the best shots of my life. Hitting a 3-wood in a play-off to ten or 12 feet, I think that qualifies.”

Rafa Cabrera Bello

Cabrera-Bello was in the clubhouse while Shinkwin, one of three overnight co-leaders, still had two holes to play and the Spaniard had some sympathy for how the 24-year-old ended his round.

After making par at the 17th, Shinkwin only had to do the same again at the par-5 18th to claim his maiden European Tour title. However, after finding the fairway with his tee shot, he opted not to lay up and instead left himself with an awkward chip shot over the greenside bunker. A tentative shot then rolled back down the hill and, after giving himself a 6ft putt to salvage his par, he left it agonisingly short to make bogey.

“I know from experience how difficult it is to close events,” he added. “I feel a little bit for him because I know how you feel when a tournament just slips.

Callum Shinkwin Reacts

“It was under his control and it doesn’t turn out the way he wanted without him hitting bad shots. Because I think the driver he hit and the second shot he hit into 18, they were just two great shots.”

There was a great consolation for Shinkwin though in his agonising defeat. A runner-up finish means he has secured place in the Open and also his European Tour playing rights for next season – not bad for a player who had missed nine cuts in a row from January to June.

“It’s been a very good week,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’ll be more than happy to finish second but the win was on my mind and didn’t happen. I’ve now got enough ranking points to hopefully be in the Race to Dubai at the end of the year and hopefully I can carry on into next week.”

Joining Shinkwin at Royal Birkdale next week are Matthieu Pavon, who finished third on ten-under-par, and Aussie Andrew Dodt, who now has to cancel a holiday to New York with his girlfriend.

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