Dunne keeps McIlroy at bay to win British Masters

Ireland's Paul Dunne celebrates with the trophy after winning the British Masters at Close House (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA).
Ireland's Paul Dunne celebrates with the trophy after winning the British Masters at Close House (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA).
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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 20 under par.

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 Karlsson, 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.

Woodsome Hall’s Chris Hanson finished 11 under par for a share of 11th spot, and his winnings of €56,531 took him to €376,869 overall for the season.

The 32-year-old Yorkshireman, in his second season on Tour, has risen to 83rd in the Race to Dubai rankings. The top 100 at the end 0f the 2016-17 season will retain their playing privileges for next year.

Dunne, who lost a play-off 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 (yesterday) 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 said: “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.”