Newcastle - Ireland's
Paul Dunne celebrated a maiden European Tour victory as he denied a
charging Rory McIlroy to capture the British Masters title in Newcastle
on Sunday with a spectacular final round of 61.
The 24-year-old Dunne laid the platform for a closing 18-hole effort
of nine-under-par with three birdies and an eagle in his first six holes
Sunday at the Close House course in northeast England.
That gave him a combined tournament total of 20 under-par and a win
by three shots from McIlroy, with Sweden's Robert Karlsson, who had led
by a shot heading to the final day, posting a 66 for third place at
Four-time major winner McIlroy had moved to within a shot of Dunne in shooting 63 on Sunday for a total of 17-under.
But Dunne held his nerve brilliantly and answered McIlroy's challenge
with birdies over his closing two holes, including sensationally
chipping-in from well off the green at the last.
Dunne's victory, his first in 51 tour events, helped make amends for
his defeat in a play-off for the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco earlier
The Irishman had also led the 2015 British Open going into the final round.
"It feels great to finally win as I have been up there a few times
this year but have never really got to put the foot down on Sunday,"
"So, in waking up this morning I said to myself I am going to try and
win it rather than have someone else hand it to me and thankfully I did
it, and hopefully I can do it again.
"Also what happened in Morocco was a help as I had a couple of shots
lead late in my final round then but Edoardo (Molinari) finished birdie,
eagle so I was just waiting today for someone like McIlroy to have a
hole-in-one on the last or something like that."
McIlroy birdied three holes in succession over his opening nine but
after dropping a shot at 11 the World No 6 put began to put real
pressure on Dunne with a further three birdies in a row from the
12th along with birdies at 16 and 17.
"It was a good weekend and
just nice to have a chance to win a golf tournament as that was big
thing and the more chances I have like that I seem to play better,"
"I started okay today and a little more slower than Saturday to be
three-under through nine but then Paul got off to a great start.
"But I set myself a target on the back nine to shoot four-under and
finish 17-under to feel like I have a chance, so I did everything I
wanted to do and it was just not good enough in the end."
The 28-year-old McIlroy, who secured his best finish since capturing
last year's PGA Tour Championship, was full of praise for Dunne.
"It was unbelievable for Paul to shoot a 61 to win his first
tournament and was incredibly impressive, and I am very happy for him as
he has worked hard on his game,” said McIlroy, who turned pro in the
British Masters a decade ago.
McIlroy now heads north to Scotland for the Alfred Dunhill Links
Championship, which starts on Thursday, still looking for a first win of
2017 in what is set to be his last event of the year.
McIlroy will not want reminding, however, that of his 22 professional
victories worldwide, none have taken place in Scotland, widely regarded
as 'the home of golf'.
Final round leading scores at the British Masters at the Close House
Golf & Country Club, Newcastle, England on Sunday (par 70; GBR and
IRL unless stated):
260 - Paul Dunne 66 68 65 61
263 - Rory McIlroy 67 69 64 63
264 - Robert Karlsson (SWE) 66 65 67 66
266 - David Lingmerth (SWE) 68 70 62 66, Florian Fritsch (GER) 66 68 69 63, Graeme Storm 65 67 67 67
267 - Shane Lowry 68 66 66 67
268 - Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN) 67 67 67 67, Tyrrell Hatton 63 65 71 69, Richie Ramsay 67 67 65 69
269 - Nacho Evira (ESP) 70 67 66 66; Chris Hanson 64 67 69 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick 66 69 66 68; Ian Poulter 66 65 68 70
270 - Stephen Gallacher 69 69 66 66, Lee Westwood 66 65 70 69; Marc Warren 70,67,65,68; Felipe Aguila (CHI) 67 71 65 67
- Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA) 69 68 68 66, Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 64 68 72 67,
Mikko Korhonen (FIN) 64 73 67 67, Martin Kaymer (GER) 66 71 66 68, Jose
Filipe Lima (POR) 71 67 65 68, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 66 70 66 69