RUSSELL KNOX may have produced the result of the weekend by winning the Irish Open yesterday but Duncan Stewart refused to be overshadowed by his best friend, grabbing a few headlines of his own by winning the ASI Scottish Open Qualifier to secure a place in the main event, which begins in Gullane on Thursday.

Stewart, who partnered Knox in the golf World Cup in 2016, found out during his back nine that his close friend had won in Ballyliffin and just an hour-or-so later, he had closed out his own victory at the two-day qualifying event at Longniddry.

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The former European Tour pro was tied for the lead with Mearns Castle’s Conor O’Neil at -4 after 36 holes before going onto claim the £5000 winner’s cheque on the second play-off hole.

And he revealed that the news of Knox’s win inspired him over his own final few holes.

“After 12 holes, I knew Knoxy was tied for the lead and after hearing he had won, I went birdie-birdie,” the Turnhouse man said.

“I said to my caddie, ‘I’m going to make sure we’re playing a practice round with Knoxy at Gullane on Tuesday’.

“I actually spoke to Knoxy last night and we were both feeling quite confident coming into our respective events today. And I sent a message saying, ‘something special is going to happen tomorrow’ and he replied, ‘Yeah, I can feel it’.”

Stewart has not been getting the results he feels his form has deserved in recent weeks and he was adamant that he was not going to finish the weekend with nothing to show for it. He followed his level par first round with six birdies yesterday to make it into a play-off with O’Neil, who admitted that he was close to hanging up his clubs prior to this event, so frustrated was he with his recent performances.

“I missed the cut at the EuroPro on Thursday night and I was horrendous so I was close to pulling out this weekend, to be honest,” the 26-year-old said.

“I was thinking about withdrawing from the EuroPro event next week so now I will have to pull out - but it’s for good reasons so that’s much better.”

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Next week’s Scottish Open, which boasts an impressive field, will be by far the biggest stage O’Neil has graced in his career and he admits he cannot wait.

“It’s brilliant - I’ve never played in anything even close to the size of the Scottish Open so it’ll be amazing,” the Glaswegian said.

“I used to go to the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond all the time as a spectator. I’m friendly with Scott Jamieson so the past five or six years, I’ve gone to watch him.

“So to be teeing up in that tournament myself now is pretty cool – it’s probably the biggest tournament outside of a major for any of us guys. Especially for me, it’s big.”

The final two qualifying spots were won by former European Tour pro, Peter Whiteford, and Jamie McLeary, who tied for third on -3.

For Whiteford, next week’s appearance at Gullane will be a welcome return to the main tour, which he has not played on for almost a year due to injury. Having played only a handful of rounds this year, he admits he had to work hard for his score over the two days.

“I didn’t expect to play brilliant and didn’t hit the ball all that well, to be honest, but my short game was good. I just hung in there,” the 37-year-old said.

“It felt like hard work but I’m delighted and it was great to get the buzz back as I’ve not felt that much adrenaline over the last year. It’s phenomenal.”

And for McLeary, who plays out of Deer Park but practices regularly at Longniddry, his Scottish Open spot has handily excused him from his house move, which he and his wife are due to do on Thursday, with the 37-year-old not exactly devastated about missing out on the heavy lifting of the flit.

“My missus was saying to make sure I make it to the weekend at Gullane so she can come and watch me,” he laughed. “She said before the weekend she knew I was qualifying – it’s the type of thing I do. So I’m happy that I don’t need to do any of the packing.”