Masters Dunne and dusted

Ir­ish­man’ s stun­ning 61 enough to hold back chal­lenge from McIl­roy

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - SPORT -

Ire­land’s Paul Dunne pro­duced a stun­ning fi­nal round to hold off a thrilling chal­lenge from Rory McIl­roy and claim his first Euro­pean Tour ti­tle in the Bri­tish Masters.

Dunne, who sprang to promi­nence af­ter shar­ing the 54-hole lead in the 2015 Open cham­pi­onship while still an am­a­teur, fired seven birdies and an ea­gle in a clos­ing 61 to fin­ish on 20-un­der-par 260.

The 24-year-old sealed vic­tory in style by chip­ping in on the 18th to fin­ish three shots clear of McIl­roy, whose 63 was the low­est score of an in­jury-plagued sea­son which he will bring to an early, self-im­posed end next week.

Swe­den’s Robert Karls- son, who be­gan the day with a one-shot lead, fin­ished third on 16 un­der with Graeme Storm, David Ling­merth and Flo­rian Fritsch on 14 un­der.

Dunne, who lost a play­off to Edoardo Moli­nari in the Has­san Tro­phy in April, en­joyed a re­mark­able stroke of luck when his ap­proach to the 11th pitched into a sprin­kler head on the edge of the green and bounced back to within five feet of the hole.

But the good for­tune was well de­served af­ter the 24-year-old played the first six holes in five un­der par to surge into a lead he would never re­lin­quish, with the vic­tory – worth £500,000 – lift­ing him into the world’s top 100 for the first time.

“It feels great,” Dunne said. “It’s nice to fi­nally put the de­mon off my back and get my first win.

“I feel like I’ve been up there a few times this year and never got to put the foot down on Sun­day so I woke up this morn­ing de­ter­mined to re­ally try to win, rather than have some­one hand it to me.

“I had a two-shot lead in Morocco and Edoardo fin­ished birdie, ea­gle so I was just wait­ing for the leader­board to show Rory hav­ing a hole-in-one on the last or some­thing.”

McIl­roy was al­ways play­ing catch-up de­spite a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth and his chance of a first win of the year looked to have gone when he missed good chances on the ninth and 10th and bo­geyed the next.

How­ever, the four-time ma­jor win­ner re­fused to throw in the towel and fired five birdies in the next six holes to close within a sin­gle shot, but a lengthy birdie at­tempt on the last was never on line.

That left Dunne need­ing to par the fi­nal two holes for vic­tory but he birdied the 17 th and chipped in for another on the last, a fit­ting end to a week which saw record crowds of 60,180 in at­ten­dance.

“It was just nice to have a chance to win a golf tour­na­ment and the more chances I have like that the bet­ter; I’m more men­tally en­gaged and switched on,” McIl­roy said.

“Shoot­ing 64, 63 over the week­end I thought would have had a chance, but that shows how good Paul played.

“It’s un­be­liev­able to shoot 61 to win his first tour event and I’m happy for him as well. He works hard on his game so it’s very well de­served.

“I don’t feel like I could have done much more but some weeks your best isn’t quite good enough.”

McIl­roy will con­test the Alfred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship with his fa­ther Gerry be­fore tak­ing a three-month break to work on his game and re­gain full fit­ness fol­low­ing a rib in­jury.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to it,” he added. “My dad rang me a cou­ple of days ago and said he was pleased I’d got my game into shape for him.” The United States beat the In­ter­na­tional team 19-11 to win a sev­enth suc­ces­sive Pres­i­dents Cup in Jersey City last night.

The Amer­i­cans headed into the sin­gles matches with a 14.5-3.5 lead and need­ing half a point to re­tain their ti­tle.

Kevin Chap­pell got the half against Marc Leish­man and, af­ter wins for Ja­son Day and Hideki Mat­suyama, Daniel Berger beat Si Woo Kim for the out­right win. The vis­i­tors won six of the 12 sin­gles matches af­ter the re­sult was de­cided. Hope­man Golf Club pres­i­dent Gary Welsh holed his tee shot at his home club’s 150-yard 12th hole. His play­ing part­ners were Mal­colm Reid and Alan Reid.

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