LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Oliver Wilson held off a chasing pack that included Rory McIlroy at the Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday to win a maiden European Tour title and breathe new life into his faltering career.
Former Ryder Cup player Wilson has slumped to 792nd in the world rankings, but held his nerve to card a final round of 70 and finish one shot clear of McIlroy, Richie Ramsay and Tommy Fleetwood.
Having begun the day three strokes clear of McIlroy and Fleetwood and four ahead of Ramsay, he finished with a 17-under-par total of 271 win to grab a long-awaited title having collected nine runner-up finishes.
“I don’t have words for it. It’s been 10 years, 11 years coming,” Wilson, who received an invite to play the tournament, said on the European Tour website.
”There were nine runners-up and I hadn’t done a whole lot to lose those, but nothing had really gone my way and this week, to be given a big opportunity by Dunhill to play – I can’t thank them enough to give me an opportunity to do this – I guess it’s what golf’s all about.
”Before I went out today I thought about how I’ve never gone out and won a tournament. I’ve played alright coming down the stretch and not lost it and other guys have just got over the line ahead of me and today I was just trying to be patient...
“I could be drunk for a while -- I’ve had a lot of champagne on hold from over the years.”
World number one McIlroy, who had surged through the field on Saturday to move into contention, began with a double bogey six at the first hole, but then carded four straight birdies to get back on track.
His back nine included three further birdies, but another bogey at the 17th effectively ended his challenge.
“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,” McIlroy said.
“They are not too far away from each other and they are the two things, the only mistakes that I made all day.”
Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Justin Palmer