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Victor Perez claimed his maiden European Tour title, the Frenchman becoming the first rookie to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews Old Course, just 15 miles from the place he currently calls home, Dundee.
It was a tense battle throughout as the 27-year-old locked horns with his playing partner Matthew Southgate, having both shared a two-stroke lead heading into the final day. Perez was one stroke behind the Englishman heading into the back nine despite a flawless two under front nine.
A dropped shot at the par three 11th meant he dropped further off the pace but a birdie at the par five 14th for the 2018 European Challenge Tour graduate, and a bogey for Southgate, meant a two-shot swing had them level going down the stretch.
Southgate’s missed par putt at the 17th was decisive as Perez edged ahead and two pars at the famous final hole at the Home of Golf earned Perez – who lives in Dundee with his partner Abigail – a career-changing victory as he moved to 17th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
Southgate could console himself with an important outright second place finish which secures his European Tour card for 2020 season after a disappointing season up to this point.
Tommy Fleetwood, meanwhile, won the team prize in the unique Pro-Am event alongside partner Ogden Phipps II, pipping Rory McIlroy and his father Gerry to the title.
“It’s really hard to describe right now,” said Perez.
“I feel like the emotions were really high all day, and really cold, windy, long day out there. I felt like I was able to battle. Matt played amazing. I was expecting some of the guys to charge, and we were fortunate in a it was a one-on-one battle on the back nine and was able to make that birdie on 14 that really pulled me back, and then just held strong till the end. I was fortunate it was my time today.
“The format is awesome. I think it’s a chance for the amateurs to see from inside the ropes and connect with the players, which is something that they strive and they love to do and chat with us and ask what clubs we hit and why and all these kind of questions. I think it’s really cool that we can give back those people, as well.
“Obviously there’s nothing like a win. The confidence that you get from getting it done, it’s so difficult at this level to win. Being my first year, I’m obviously delighted.”
Ryan Fox was the only Australasian to make the cut but after a fine start to the week he eventually finished in 54th place.
The European Tour now moves to Madrid for this week’s Spanish Open.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 29, 2019