Frenchman Perez dazzles in Dunhill Links victory

Frenchman Victor Perez was doused in champagne after brilliantly capturing a maiden European Tour title with his one-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Perez, 27, headed into the final round tied with playing partner England’s Matthew Southgate, having both shared a two-stroke lead heading into day four.

However, Perez found himself a stroke behind his English rival heading into the back nine despite a flawless 2-under front nine.

A dropped shot at the par three 11th meant he fell further off the pace but a birdie at the par five 14th for the 2018 European Challenge Tour graduate, and a bogey for Southgate, meant a two-shot swing had them level going down the stretch.

The turning point came when Southgae missed a par putt at the notorious ‘Road Hole’ 17th leaving Perez to two-putt the last for a par and victory.

Perez, who now lives in Dundee with his partner Abigail, earned a two-year Tour exemption and jumped 61 spots to 17th on the Race to Dubai while he is now lying second on the 2020 Ryder Cup points table.

Victor Perez Victor Perez (Credit: Alfred Dunhill Links)

“It’s really hard to describe right now. I feel like the emotions were really high all day, and really cold, windy, long day out there. I felt like I was able to battle,” said Perez.

“The format is awesome. I think it’s a chance for the amateurs to see from inside the ropes and connect with the players, which is something that they strive and they love to do and chat with us and ask what clubs we hit and why and all these kind of questions. I think it’s really cool that we can give back those people, as well.”

Tommy Fleetwood fired a closing round 8-under 64 to finish three shots off the lead but his 39-under total alongside American businessman and teammate Ogden Phipps saw the duo take home the team honours ahead of the McIlroy’s.

Rory McIlroy and father Gerry also finished at 39 under but Fleetwood’s 64 sealed the win as McIlroy finished at 15 under after closing with six consecutive birdies for his round of 67.

“I’ve known Tommy since he was 19 and we’ve played together in this event seven times now. My wife Ashley and Tommy’s wife Clare are also very good friends and Tommy stayed with us during the summer when he came over to play in the US PGA Championship. We’ve had dinner together every night this week and we speak regularly on the phone,” said Phipps.

A total of thirteen Australians lined up for the week but none could make the final day cut with the best efforts of the week going to Wade Ormsby and Jason Scrivener in a tie for 61st place.