Greystones' Paul Dunne produced a spectacular finish to hold off four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy, chipping in on the 72nd hole to win his maiden European Tour title by three shots in the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at Close House, writes the European Tour.
McIlroy piled the pressure on the 24-year-old with five birdies in seven holes on the back nine to set the clubhouse target of 17 under par, adding a closing 63 to his third round 64.
But it was to be Dunne’s day as he fired a stunning nine under par final round of 61, which included an eagle three on the sixth hole and a remarkable birdie on the 11th, when his ball hit a greenside sprinkler head and rolled to three feet from the pin.
If that provided some entertainment for the crowd of 14, 611, Dunne’s finish was even better, when he found the greenside rough on the 18th, needing to avoid double bogey in order to secure victory.
With McIlroy watching on from the recording area, Dunne then holed his chip for a brilliant birdie to cap a stunning closing 61 and finish three shots clear of the former World Number One on 20 under par.
That capped a day to remember for Dunne, who shot to prominence in the 2015 Open at St Andrews when he lead going into the final round as an amateur, and underlined his subsequent progress since turning professional, after narrowly missing out on a first title earlier this year when he lost in a play-off to Edoardo Molinari in the Trophee Hassan II.
He earned €562,500 to move to 12th in the Race to Dubai with €1,296,408 and from 192nd to 88th in the world, which puts him position to play the WGCs next year.
Nautrally, he'll be hoping for more with the world's top 50 in his sights and a huge haul of Ryder Cup points
McIlroy’s second runner-up finish of 2017 provided a timely boost ahead of his final appearance of the year in next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, while Sweden’s Robert Karlsson finished third on 16 under par with a closing 66.
Tournament host Lee Westwood rounded off his week with a 69 to finish on ten under par and in a share of 15th position.
Shane Lowry finished tied seventh, seven behind Dunne after a closing 67 and waited at the 18th to congratulated the Wicklow man and his caddie.
"It was good. I didn't get anything going on the front nine, and finished nicely. Nice Top-10. Bit of a reward for some good golf this week," Lowry said. "I feel like I played really well, and I'm looking forward to the Dunhill next week. I'm very excited going up there, three courses that I love, and I feel like my game is in good shape."
As he watched Dunne hold off McIlroy, he said: "I'm going to go down there and pack my stuff, and hopefully I'll be coming up to see him on the 18th green. I was watching the board, obviously, for my own reasons, I was trying to get up there myself. But when it was out of my hands and I couldn't get there, I'm rooting Paul on. Young kid, he's a great add, and I know his caddie, Darren, very well, and hopefully he can do the business.
“I feel like I've played pretty consistently all year, and I've given myself a few chances on Sunday to make a move and contend and haven't really been able to put the foot down. That was my focus today, to get off to a hot start, and once I got my nose in front to just keep pushing, because you never know what happens.
“I feel kind of a sense of relief to prove it to myself that I can get it done. I think I've improved a lot mentally over the last year in these kinds of situations. My Sunday performances weren't that strong and this year, it's something I've definitely improved on.
“Any time I can beat a field of this quality, I don't know how many but I know there's a lot of players in the world top-50 here. That obviously gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I can beat players of that calibre. The fact that Rory (McIlroy) came second, Shane (Lowry) came seventh, that's just great for Irish golf.
"I do think I work hard, but I think everybody works hard. There's only a vast majority of players who don't put the work into every element of their game. Everyone at this stage seems to have good teams behind them and puts the work in, and it's something when push comes to shove on Sunday, you just have to get the job done. That's what I've been telling myself over the last few months, you need to put everything else aside and try to get the job done on Sunday, and that's when all the hard work pays off."
“It was just nice to have a chance to win a golf tournament. I think that was the big thing. The more chances I have like that, I seem to play better. Mentally I'm just a little more engaged and switched on. I did everything that I wanted to do. It just wasn't good enough in the end today.
“Incredible, to shoot 61 to win his (Paul Dunne) first tour event, it's incredibly impressive. I'm happy for him. He works hard on his game. Every time I'm out practicing or on the putting green, the chipping green, he's always there and he's always working hard. So it's very well deserved.
“I feel like I've improved and my game improved as I got into contention and got a sniff. Even today I wanted to shoot something similar to yesterday and was able to go one better. Set myself a target of 17-under going into the back nine. I was able to get to that.
“Usually when I set myself a target and get to it, usually the result is what I want it to be, but this time it wasn't to be. Paul getting off to that really hot start gave me too much to do and he finished the tournament off great.
“This was a bonus just to be here and to play well. I'm happy with my performance. Happy with how most things went this week and excited to play with my dad next week and have a good time up in St. Andrews.”
“It was good. Not good enough, but it was good. I played so much better than yesterday. Yesterday was a tough day, and I was very excited to get off with a 67. Today I played really nicely and I put a bit of pressure on him, but he just kept going. I was just happy to put a really good final round together when I was finally in the last group for the first time in a hundred years, it feels like.
“I feel that things have been coming a bit closer. I've been putting in a bunch of good rounds. At least this week, I put in two good rounds. Things are coming, and especially the way things felt on the first tee yesterday and the first tee today. It was like, well this is what I'm playing for and this is where I want to be. I enjoyed it a lot out there today.”
“Just played all right. A couple of poor shots but not too bad overall. Just struggled to make any putts, really. Didn't quite hit it close enough, I would say.
“It's been good. It gave me another view of a tournament, an appreciation of what goes on leading up to a tournament and during the tournament. I'm glad I did it and hopefully, everybody had a good time.
“Nearly 70,000. I think that's brilliant, it's the best attendance since we've brought the tournament back and I'm delighted with that, but I had a funny feeling people in the north east would support it well."
260 P Dunne (Irl) 66 68 65 61,
263 R McIlroy (Nir) 67 69 64 63,
264 R Karlsson (Swe) 66 65 67 66,
266 D Lingmerth (Swe) 68 70 62 66, F Fritsch (Ger) 66 68 69 63, G Storm (Eng) 65 67 67 67,
267 S Lowry (Irl) 68 66 66 67,
268 L Bjerregaard (Den) 67 67 67 67, R Ramsay (Sco) 67 67 65 69, T Hatton (Eng) 63 65 71 69,
269 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 66 69 66 68, N Elvira (Esp) 70 67 66 66, I Poulter (Eng) 66 65 68 70, C Hanson (Eng) 64 67 69 69,
270 S Gallacher (Sco) 69 69 66 66, G Coetzee (RSA) 63 72 65 70, L Westwood (Eng) 66 65 70 69, F Aguilar (Chi) 67 71 65 67, M Warren (Sco) 70 67 65 68,
271 J Lima (Por) 71 67 65 68, M Kaymer (Ger) 66 71 66 68, M Korhonen (Fin) 64 73 67 67, M Ilonen (Fin) 64 68 72 67, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 66 70 66 69, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 69 68 68 66,
272 P Larrazábal (Esp) 68 68 67 69, G Havret (Fra) 67 67 71 67, C Wood (Eng) 67 68 66 71, D Brooks (Eng) 66 70 68 68, D Fichardt (RSA) 67 68 73 64,
273 B Stone (RSA) 69 67 71 66, S Jamieson (Sco) 68 68 69 68, D Horsey (Eng) 69 69 69 66, A Otaegui (Esp) 70 68 69 66, L Slattery (Eng) 65 67 72 69, R Sterne (RSA) 69 65 74 65,
274 A Wall (Eng) 69 68 68 69, G Bourdy (Fra) 68 67 71 68, A Dodt (Aus) 66 69 69 70, J Donaldson (Wal) 70 68 69 67, R Rock (Eng) 68 68 70 68, B Hebert (Fra) 70 68 68 68, J Campillo (Esp) 70 67 71 66,
275 J Wang (Kor) 68 69 69 69, W Ormsby (Aus) 67 70 68 70, A Levy (Fra) 69 68 70 68, A Hansen (Den) 69 68 67 71, G McDowell (Nir) 66 68 72 69, D Drysdale (Sco) 71 67 70 67, A Sullivan (Eng) 68 69 71 67, E De La Riva (Esp) 70 68 71 66,
276 P Waring (Eng) 68 68 73 67, T Lewis (Eng) 70 67 69 70, A Rai (Eng) 70 67 71 68, L Canter (Eng) 69 68 71 68, A Chesters (Eng) 65 66 72 73,
277 P Angles (Esp) 68 70 69 70, D Willett (Eng) 69 67 72 69, D Stewart (Sco) 71 67 67 72,
278 A Cañizares (Esp) 70 68 71 69, O Fisher (Eng) 70 68 68 72,
279 S Gros (Fra) 70 67 71 71, M Foster (Eng) 68 69 69 73, L Haotong (Chn) 67 69 68 75, J Stalter (Fra) 65 69 74 71,
281 S Chawrasia (Ind) 72 65 72 72,
282 J Carlsson (Swe) 65 73 67 77.