Brooks recovers to maintain lead

European Tour

Daniel Brooks held on by the skin of his teeth at the Scottish Open on Saturday, as some big names made their move just behind.

The Englishman overcame a shaky start, which saw his three-shot overnight light go up in smoke within one hole thanks to a double-bogey six at the first, to post a one-under-par 69 and maintain a one-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard.

Brooks lies on 12 under heading into Sunday’s final round, but he is sure to face some stiff competition for the title.

Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin soared into contention with a best-of-the-day 64, and Players champion and last year’s Open Championship runner-up Rickie Fowler shot a 66 to finish the day on 10 under par, just two back.

Fowler is tied with Joost Luiten and Tommy Fleetwood, while PGA Tour regular Matt Kuchar lies on nine under alongside Eddie Pepperell and Russell Knox, just three shots off the pace and very much still in with a real chance come Sunday.

Knox, who rose up the leaderboard with a 66, will carry local hopes into the final round.

Ryan Palmer and veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez share ninth place on eight under.

Everyone is still chasing Brooks, though, who did superbly to shake off his double bogey and scramble for four further birdies and just one more bogey, ensuring he would keep his nose in front.

The signs appeared ominous when he drove right into thick rough and needed two attempts to chop out on the opening hole, but he didn’t let the error dictate the rest of his round.

“It’s good to get off to a bad start and hold it together,” said Brooks.

“It was playing tough and cold in the wind so it was nice to carry on the way I have been playing. I hit a lot of poor shots today but scrambled and putted well.

“It would be amazing to win, that’s what we play for. It’s the biggest day of my career but I am trying not to think about it. The main priority is to keep my card because I have been struggling all year.”

Second-placed Jacquelin, meanwhile, recently recovered from missing five straight cuts by finishing 23rd on home soil in Paris last week.

“It’s been hard,” the 40-year-old said. “The last three months is really difficult, especially for me. Normally I make quite a lot of cuts and play pretty solid off the tee and I hit a lot of greens.

“So it’s been tough but it’s my 20th season on Tour, so I’ve been lucky, never lost my card. So I can’t really complain, even if the last three months were difficult. It’s part of the game.

Fowler is eyeing a strong showing this week with an eye towards next week’s Open.

“The big key is preparation for next week,” Fowler said. “Not just playing the week before but also playing on a links golf course and having the opportunity to be in contention, it’s only going to help me for next week.

“Last year I finished eighth here and then went on to have a good week at The Open. So I am looking forward to tomorrow and having a chance at winning this thing down the stretch and putting myself in a position to go play well next week as well.”

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