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Jacobson collapses, Romero prevails at Scottish Op
by Doug Ferguson

Three days away from his 48th birthday, Eduardo Romero of Argentina took advantage of a late collapse from Fredrik Jacobson to win the Scottish Open in a playoff Sunday and become the third-oldest winner on the European tour.

Romero closed with a 1-under 70 and forced the playoff by making a 10-foot(3 meter) par putt on the final hole at Loch Lomond. About 15 minutes later, he made an 8-foot (2.5 meter) birdie putt on the same hole to collect his eighth tour victory.

It was the sixth runner-up finish for Jacobson, who has never won on tour and won't likely forget this one.

The 27-year-old Swede had a two-stroke lead with four holes to play and faced a 5-foot (1.5 meter) birdie putt on the 15th hole when his nerves got the best of him.

Romero rolled in a 20-foot (6 meter) birdie putt from off the green to cut the deficit to one stroke, then Jacobson didn't even come close to the cup on his short birdie attempt.

Jacobson escaped with an improbable par on No. 16. He hooked his drive well left of the fairway, but was given a free drop because of abnormal ground conditions - deep tire tracks left by a tractor.

Instead of playing safe out to the fairway, Jacobson tried to clear a gap in the trees and clipped some branches, the ball feared lost near a hazard. But Romero helped find the ball with two minutes left in the search, and, after another free drop because of a plugged lie, Jacobson chopped out to 10 feet (3 meters) and saved par.

He pumped his fist as if he had won the tournament.

Not quite.

Jacobson, who began the final round with a one-stroke advantage, missed a 2-foot (60cm) par putt on the 17th to fall into a tie for the first time all day. He finished with a 71, and both finished at 11-under 273, one stroke ahead of Tim Clark (68) and Roger Chapman (68).

"I had it pretty much in control, but just over the last three or four holes I got very nervous," Jacobson said. "I didn't see much of the back nine at all. It was all kind of in a fog. I tried to cope with it the best I could."

In the playoff, the Swede missed the 18th green well to the left and played a flop shot that caught part of the slip but spun 6 feet by the hole. He never had to putt - Romero's birdie putt was pure, and the two players embraced on the 18th hole.

Des Smyth (48 years, 34 days) in the 2001 Madeira Island Open and Neil Coles (48 years, 14 days) in the 1982 Sanyo Open are the only European tour winners older than Romero.

The only other time Jacobson was a 54-hole leader, he lost in a playoff to Lee Westwood four years ago in the Belgacom Open.

The consolation prize was a trip to the British Open. Jacobson, who had missed his last four cuts, came to Loch Lomond with hopes of building his confidence and finishing in the top eight among players not already exempt for Muirfield.

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