Oliver Wilson wins Alfred Dunhill Links Champs

England’s Oliver Wilson secured a remarkable first European Tour victory

Oliver Wilson
Oliver Wilson holds aloft the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship trophy. Credit: Getty Images

England’s Oliver Wilson secured a remarkable victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. He finished one stroke clear of his fellow Brits, Richie Ramsay, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.

England’s Oliver Wilson secured a remarkable victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. He finished one stroke clear of his fellow Brits, Richie Ramsay, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.

Wilson started the final round with a three-stroke lead over his closest pursuers. But coming into this event with no form to speak of and a World Ranking of 792, even he had doubts about whether he could close out the tournament.

“I must admit I had a sleepless night,” said the 34-year-old who had previously finished runner-up nine times on the European Tour, but not since 2008. “I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could do it.”

Wilson’s fears looked justified on the front nine as he quickly lost his advantage. He played the first four holes in one-over-par while others started quickly.

Louis Oosthuizen birdied four of his first six holes to tie Wilson on 14-under-par, before Tommy Fleetwood and Richie Ramsay raced to the top of the board, both getting to 16-under-par.

Given the pressure he was facing, Wilson showed remarkable resolve to stay in contention, and he fought back with birdies at the 10th and 11th holes to get himself to 16-under-par.

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay surged clear when birdies at the 14th and 15th saw him reach 18-under-par. But bogeys at the 16th and 17th, and only a par at the home hole, meant he posted a clubhouse total of 16-under.

Rory McIlroy started with a double-bogey six, but then battled back superbly well with four straight birdies. He got to 16-under-par after 12 holes, but was unable to make further progress. He bogeyed the 17th then birdied the final hole to finish 16-under and tie Ramsay.

Wilson made an excellent par save at the 14th then recorded another par at the 15th. From more than 200 yards out on the 16th he then struck a career long iron shot into the wind that ended just feet from the cup.

“Probably the best shot I’ve ever hit,” he said of the blow. He converted the birdie chance and moved, once again, to the top of the leaderboard on 17-under-par.

Wilson’s drive on the infamous 17th was played well to the left and he leaked his second into the right hand rough, well short of the putting surface. From there, however, he played an outstanding pitch and holed out for a brilliant four.

On the final hole, Wilson played two solid shots and narrowly missed the birdie putt that would have secured the title. Fleetwood had a putt from some 10 feet that would have forced a playoff, but it slid past the right edge and the victory was Wilson’s. It was an emotional moment for a player whose previous best result this season had been a tie for 40th in the rain-shortened Nelson Mandela Championship.

“I can’t tell you how much this means,” he said. “To not have to go back to Tour School is a massive relief and my schedule is going to change quite a bit now.” With the win, Wilson will now play in the European Tour’s Final Series and will gain a place in the 2014 WGC – HSBC Champions and the 2015 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Old Course St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Oct 2-5, purse €3,850,000,

1    Oliver Wilson (Eng)    64    72    65    70    271    €625,787 T2    Richie Ramsay (Sco)    69    68    68    67    272    €279,990 T2    Rory McIlroy (NIR)    73    67    64    68    272    €279,990 T2    Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 69    73    62    68    272    €279,990 5    Chris Doak (Sco)        70    67    70    66    273    €159,200 T6    Richard Sterne (RSA)    73    66    68    67    274    €112,641 T6    Shane Lowry (Ire)    66    70    71    67    274    €112,641 T6    Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)    70    74    62    68    274    €112,641 T9    Brooks Koepka (USA)    70    73    64    68    275    €79,560 T9    Chris Wood (Eng)        70    69    66    70    275    €79,560

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?