Oliver Wilson beats Rory McIlroy to Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

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Oliver Wilson beat off the challenge of world number one Rory McIlroy to claim his first ever European Tour title in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Wilson has finished runner-up nine times on the European Tour before losing his card. But the 34-year old shot a final round of 70 to see him finishing on 17-under par for the tournament, one shot ahead of McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and Richie Ramsay.

Wilson's playing partner, Fleetwood, could have forced a play-off on the final hole but missed a 10 foot putt for birdie while Ramsey was two clear of the field but bogeys on the 16th and 17th meant his round of 67 wasn't enough.

McIlroy began his day poorly with a double bogey on the first but looked to be gaining momentum when he birdied the following four holes. Two further birdies on the 10th and 12th looked to have given McIlroy a platform to complete victory but he putted into the bunker on the 17th to hand victory to Wilson.


McIlroy showed good sportsmanship on his Twitter page when he wrote: "Don't think I could've chosen a better person to finish 2nd to this week! Congrats @Oliver-Wilson so well deserved!"

The tournament win came with prize money of almost £500,000 and a guaranteed two years on the European Tour. The triumph meant Wilson has moved from 252nd to 39th in the Race to Dubai.

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Wilson admits that his maiden victory has been a long time coming but is thankful for those who supported him throughout his career.

"I don't have words for it," Wilson told Sky Sports. "It's been 10, 11 years coming, nine runners-up and I hadn't done a whole lot (wrong) to lose those but nothing has really gone my way.

Kept believing

"I know so many people had written me off and that hurt, but I just kept believing and a lot of people around me helped. I can't thank them all enough but they know who they are. It's pretty special.

Wilson also admitted that he didn't believe he would actually win the tournament until the penultimate hole when he holed a brilliant putt.

"I slept awful last night, I thought about a lot of things that this could do for me but to be honest I probably didn't genuinely believe, then I got on 17 when I holed that putt and started thinking what were the possibilities.

"The tournaments that I am now going to be able to get in... I don't have to go back to qualifying school and I can't tell you how pleased I am about that. I don't know all the implications yet but it will be fun to work out.


Unsurprisingly, Wilson was planning a big celebration to mark his first victory on the European Tour.

"I could be drunk for a while. It's been a long time coming. I've got a lot of champagne on hold from over the years. It will be a good party."

Wilson had held a three-shot lead going into the final day but that quickly disappeared after he three-putted the fourth for a bogey and the fifth for a par.

Best shot of my life

However, birdies on holes 10 and 11 put Wilson back into a tie of the lead and, with Ramsey faltering late on, he took control with a brilliant approach shot on the 16th, a shot that he described as "the best shot of my life."

But Wilson, who played in the 2008 Ryder Cup, still had a tough task to save par on the 17th when he found himself needing an up and down from 90 yards but managed it. However McIlroy, who needed to do the same from much closer, couldn't as he putted into the notoriously tricky Road Hole bunker on the St. Andrews course. McIlroy admitted that it was the 17th hole that cost him victory.

"I didn't really leave myself much of a chance there," McIlroy said. "If you're going to miss it, you need to miss it right there and I didn't. It was tough.


"Where I feel like I cost myself the tournament today was probably in the space of about 20 yards at the front of the green at the first and over at the Road Hole bunker. Not too far away from each other. They are the two things, the only mistakes that I made all day."

After last week's Ryder Cup jubilation and the intense Fed-Ex Cup play-offs, McIlroy felt that the pro-am tournament didn't quite match up with the recent events he's competed in.

"I'm not 100 per cent. My excitement level didn't get above about three at any point during the round. I'm ready for a break.

"(But) I love this golf course. I feel like I play well here every time I tee it up so I am looking forward to coming back here in July and defending the Open Championship."

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Rory McIlroy
European Tour

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