Ireland’s Paul Dunne fired a brilliant final round of 61 at Close House GC to win the British Masters by three shots from Rory McIlroy. It was Dunne’s first European Tour title.

Paul Dunne held his nerve to survive a late surge from Rory McIlroy in the British Masters at Close House. The Irishman birdied the last two holes to win by three shots and claim a maiden European Tour victory.

On a day of low scoring at Close House, Rory McIlroy made a run at the title with five birdies in his last six holes. He closed with a 63 and posted a clubhouse total of 17-under-par.

At that stage Dunne had a two-shot lead with two holes to play. He made a birdie at the 17th to increase the cushion to two over McIlroy with just the par-3 last to play and he then sealed the tournament victory with a chip-in from off the last green.

Dunne closed with a sensational 61 to finish on 20-under-par, with McIlroy in solo second. 48-year-old Robert Karlsson carded a closing 66 to end the week in third with Florian Fritsch, David Lingmerth and local boy Graeme Storm tied for fourth.

It was a first European Tour win for Dunne who led the 2015 Open Championship through 54-holes when he was still an amateur.

“It’s 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 kind of situations,” he said.

 “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 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. Absolutely thrilled. Obviously the money is great. It means I don’t have to worry about getting a job where I have to sit behind a desk. But after all this, you know, I really love playing golf, and I’ve been grateful.”

Paul Dunne swing sequence:

3 Talking points from the British Masters

1 – 24-year-old Paul Dunne is now a winner on the European Tour. He lost a playoff earlier this year for the Trophee Hassan II but he made no mistakes this time, producing a tremendous final round to hold off four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy. The Irishman has now climbed to 12th place on the Race to Dubai and into the top-100 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

2 – Rory McIlroy was looking for a first victory in 2017 but he got off to a slow start on Sunday with five straight pars. A birdie at the 6th got him moving in the right direction but he was set back with a bogey on the 11th. His round came to life on the run for home though with five birdies in his last six holes.

“I started okay today. I started a little more slowly than yesterday but I was three under through nine. Saw that Paul got off to a great start and I set myself a target on the back nine. I said, if I could shoot four under on the back nine, finish 17 under, I’ll have a chance. I did everything that I wanted to do, it just wasn’t good enough in the end today,” he said. “Incredible, to shoot 61 to win his first Tour event, it’s incredibly impressive. I’m happy for him as well. He works hard on his game. Every time I’m out practising or on the putting green, the chipping green, he’s always there and he’s always working hard. So it’s very well deserved.”

3 – It was an important week for Robert Karlsson and Florian Fritsch. The Swede led with 18-holes to play and he fired a creditable 66 to end the week in third spot. Starting the tournament in 164th place on the Race to Dubai standings, he is now up to 98th – the top-100 will keep their playing rights for 2018. Fritsch who has a fear of flying, and can only play a limited schedule as a result, climbed from outside the top 150 to 114th. Both will play in next week’s Dunhill Links in Scotland.

British Masters
Close House GC, Newcastle, England
Sep 27 – Oct 1
Purse: £3,000,000 Par: 70

1       Paul Dunne (Irl)            66     68     65     61     260   €562,500
2       Rory McIlroy (NIr) 67     69     64     63     263   €374,996
3       Robert Karlsson (Swe)   66     65     67     66     264   €211,275
T4     Florian Fritsch (Ger)      66     68     69     63     266   €143,325
T4     David Lingmerth (Swe)  68     70     62     66     266   €143,325
T4     Graeme Storm (Eng)     65     67     67     67     266   €143,325
7       Shane Lowry (Irl)          68     66     66     67     267   €101,250
T8     Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 67    67     67     67     268   €75,825
T8     Tyrrell Hatton (Eng)      63     65     71     69     268   €75,825
T8     Richie Ramsay (Sco)      67     67     65     69     268   €75,825

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage