Paul Dunne holds off McIlroy to win British Masters


Paul Dunne closed out his first European Tour victory in style, holing out for birdie with a chip on the 18th to win the British Masters by three shots. 

The 24-year-old Irishman shot a bogey-free final-round 61 which included seven birdies and an eagle at Close House, finishing three shots ahead of Rory McIlroy. 

Despite a strong challenge from the World No. 6, who reached with a final-round 63, Dunne set himself early on as the man to catch by reaching 16-under-par after just five holes.

McIlroy moved to within one, but Dunne birdied the 17th to give himself a two shot lead heading down the last - and looked set to wrap up his first ever win on the European Tour. 

And he did it in style. You'd have been forgiven for holding your breath as Dunne almost found the bunker on the final hole. Rather than panic, Dunne holed his chip shot for a birdie on the 18th to extend his lead and secure the British Masters title. 

"[I'm feeling] kind of a sense of relief to prove it to myself that I can get it done," he said after his victory.

"I think I've improved a lot mentally over the last year in these kind of situations. I found myself a lot of Sundays last year feeling like I needed to press forward trying to chase my card and I was struggling with it. My Sunday performances weren't that strong. And this year, it's something I've definitely improved on."

"I feel like I've got a bit tougher mentally, and I get excited to go out and look at the leaderboard, rather than trying to look at my position. I went out and really tried to win the tournament, rather than have someone hand it to me. That was the focus."

"Once I was in front, just keep pushing, make no bogeys and see how many birdies I can make."

Dunne is now looking to build on his victory over the closing weeks of the season as he prepares to head to Scotland for next week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - where McIlroy will also be competing.

"It just got me into that World Golf Championships in China, which is great," he said. "That was one of my goals over the next three weeks, because I think the top 30 in the Race to Dubai get into that, and I was 34th. That's one of them achieved.

"But I don't know; I have no idea what kind of doors this opens or anything like that. I'm still going to play the next two weeks, the Dunhill and the Italian Open, and just kind of build off that."

McIlroy glad to be back in the hunt, praises Dunne

Rory McIlroy has had a bit of a disappointing season, plagued with injury and failing to make the Tour Championships - but this week things seem to have turned around for the Northern Irishman. 

He established himself in the hunt over the weekend, and really gave himself a chance to win, carding five birdies over the last seven holes to set the clubhouse lead at 17-under-par. 

"It was just nice to have a chance to win a golf tournament," McIlroy said. "I think that was the big thing and the more chances I have like that, I seem to play better. Mentally I am just a little bit more engaged and switched on."

"I set myself a target on the back nine. I said to myself 'if I can shoot four-under on this back nine and finish 17-under I feel like I will have a chance'.

"So I did everything that I wanted to do, it just wasn't good enough in the end today."

"It was unbelievable to shoot 61 to win his first Tour event," he said of Dunne. "It's incredibly impressive. I'm happy for him as well. He works hard on his game. Every time I'm out practising on the putting green or chipping green he's always there, and he's always working hard. So it's very well deserved."