Lucas Bjerregaard wins Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - The Dane claimed his second Tour win in testing conditions at the Home of Golf
Lucas Bjerregaard wins Alfred Dunhill Links
Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard braved the Scottish elements to claim victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. A final round of 67 in strong winds was good enough for a 15-under-par total and a one-shot victory over defending champion Tyrrell Hatton and Ryder Cup hero Tommy Fleetwood.
In an unusual twist, nearly all players would begin their final round at 8.30am in a shotgun start across all tees on the Old Course. This was due to high winds being forecast in the afternoon.
Further complexity came from the Team competition, which runs concurrently with the pro event and comprises two-man teams made up of a pro and amateur partner. The top 20 teams made the three-round cut and consequently, some pros who missed the individual cut still had to peg it up on Sunday in testing conditions to try and win the team event.
Hatton entered the final round one shot clear of Australian Marcus Fraser and four ahead of Bjerregaard, trying to become the first Englishman to win the same European Tour event three times in a row since Nick Faldo secured a hat trick of Irish Open wins between 1991 and 1993. The last player to achieve the feat, excluding majors and WGCs, was Ernie Els, who won the Heineken Classic in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Hatton extended his lead early on with four consecutive birdies from the third and at one point had a five-shot lead but this soon evaporated after bogeys at 10, 11, 15 and 16.
A birdie on the 18th for Hatton and Fleetwood would have been enough for a spot in a play off after Bjerregaard three-putted the 17th, his final hole, but neither could hole their makeable chances. It meant Bjerregaard earned his second tour win, his first coming at last year’s Portugal Masters.
The Dane began with a birdie on the 18th and followed it with birdies at the 4th, 6th and 8th to reduce Hatton’s lead. A birdie at the 16th gave him a two-shot lead over Hatton, who needed to birdie the 18th to force a play-off but couldn’t convert his chance.
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Fleetwood finished in a tie for second with Hatton on 14-under with Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen a shot further back in fourth following a superb 64 at Carnoustie the previous day. It’s a performance that should secure his playing rights for next season.
“It was one of the best rounds I’ve played all year,” said Bjerregaard. “I lost in a playoff in Switzerland recently, which hurt, so it feels really good. I didn’t think I had much of a chance to be honest, it looked like Tyrrell was going to run away with it. We knew the back nine was going to be tough so to I thought if I could throw in a few birdies there I’d have a chance and the one on 16 was really nice.”
Home favourite Stephen Gallacher, a former winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2005, started brightly with two birdies in his first six holes but a double bogey at the 10th halted his charge and he finished in a tie for 11th.
It was players like Koepka who arguably gained an advantage from the shotgun start format, playing the treacherous 17th hole in more favourable conditions early on. The American, who came straight from Paris following the USA’s Ryder Cup defeat, finished in a tie for seventh with Ryder Cup teammate Tony Finau on nine-under par.
Haotong Li and his amateur playing partner Allen Zhang, creator of WeChat, China’s most popular app, won the team event, finishing on 35 under par, one shot ahead of Thongchai Jaidee and amateur Scott Desano.
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
Old Course, St. Andrews; Carnoustie & Kingsbarns, Scotland.
Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 70 65 71 67 273
Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 70 66 66 72 274
Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 71 67 67 69 274
Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 76 67 64 69 278
Andrea Pavan (Ita) 72 63 71 72 278
Haotong Li (Chi) 75 69 68 66 278
Padraig Harrington 69 72 69 69 279
Tony Finau (USA) 73 66 71 69 279
Lucas Herbert (Aus) 70 70 69 70 279
Brooks Koepka (USA) 70 72 65 72 279
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage