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Dunne holds off McIlroy for maiden win at British Masters

Paul Dunne grabbed his first European Tour win after a stunning final round 61 bagged him the British Masters at Close House
 

What happened at the British Masters?

Paul Dunne held off a charging Rory McIlroy to win his first European Tour title – the British Masters at Close House.

The Irishman chipped in for a birdie two at the last to sign off a brilliant 61 in emphatic style – his 20-under total giving him a three shot victory.

Dunne was cruising through the final round, holding a three shot lead after a birdie, birdie, eagle run helped him out in 30.

He had a little bit of luck, too, hitting a sprinkler head on the 11th green which catapulted his ball to about four feet.

It looked like it was his trophy to lose but McIlroy then birdied five out of the last seven to close with a 63.

It reduced the gap to just one and heaped the pressure on the 25-year-old for the run in.

Dunne, though, stood firm. His birdie at the penultimate hole gave him a two shot cushion before he produced a moment of brilliance in front of the packed grandstands at the par 3 18th.

Tyrrell Hatton led by three at the half-way point, and tournament host Lee Westwood made his own charge down the front nine of the third day.

But both dropped away. McIlroy’s opening two rounds gave him lots to do but a third round 64 put him right in the mix at Newcastle.

It was Dunne, though, who grabbed the initiative early in the final round and didn’t let go.

He said: “It is a sense of relief to prove it to myself that I can get it done. I think I’ve improved mentally a lot over the last year in these kind of situations.

“I found myself in a lot of Sundays last year feeling like I needed to press forward and trying to chase my card.

“I was struggling with it. I feel like I’ve got a bit tougher mentally. I get excited to go out and try and move up the leaderboard rather than trying to consolidate a position.

“I think I took that into today and went out and really tried to win the tournament rather than have someone hand it to me.

“That was the focus, once I got my nose in front, to just keep pushing, make no bogeys and see how many birdies I could make. I’m absolutely thrilled.”

It was hard for McIlroy to be disappointed with a 63. He added: “I played well under pressure today. I gave myself plenty of chances and had some good putts. It just wasn’t quite enough.

“Paul is a very hard worker and it seems all that hard work has paid off. Anytime I was on the range, or the putting green, Paul was always there.

“He does things the right way and it’s very well deserved. I don’t think anyone going out today would have thought that 20 under would be the winning score.”

Talking point

The European Tour’s new policy on mobile phones has been hugely popular with fans, who have been able to take pictures and video of their heroes during tournament play.

While the majority of spectators have complied with requests to keep their phones on silent, there are always the odd exceptions.

Westwood had to appeal twice to the hospitality areas on Friday after a clicking shutter went off repeatedly as Sergio Garcia was trying to putt out on the 9th.

And Ian Poulter was typically forthright after the noise from another device distracted him as he played the par 3 5th in the third round.

He dumped the ball in the water on his way to a costly double bogey – leading to an expletive laden burst of anger.

“We’ve allowed them all to take pictures and videos and we tell them to put them on silent and it doesn’t work, does it?” he said after the round.

“You get distracted on the wrong hole at the wrong time and it’s extremely penal and it’s really f****** annoying.”

Shots of the week

Ashley Chesters had a disappointing third round, but this was a special moment…

And this is some way to win a tournament…

Quote of the week

“I’m absolutely devastated I can’t play. It’s come out today, hasn’t it? It’s just as well I’m away for another few weeks. Otherwise I’d probably waste 12 hours a day on it. I’m looking forward to getting home and playing that. But, at the same time, I’m really looking forward to the weekend ahead.”

Tyrrell Hatton when asked which was the more exciting prospect – leading going into the weekend or playing the new FIFA ’18 video game.

Best dressed

British Masters

You need to style and poise to don a white top on a rain-drenched and muddy golf course. Rory McIlroy shows how it’s done.

Worst dressed

British Masters

Remember those magic eye pictures back in the 90s? Graeme McDowell sends us cross-eyed with this number in the first round.

Best tweets

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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