Dougherty wins Links crown after a wobble

Nick Dougherty overcame an attack of the nerves to capture his second European Tour title in the £2.5million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

While Irish teenager Rory McIlroy all but clinched his tour card for next season in only his second event as a professional by finishing third, 25-year-old Dougherty closed with a one-under-par 71 for an 18-under aggregate of 270 and won the £392,368 first prize by two shots from compatriot Justin Rose.

Dougherty, who claimed his maiden title in the 2005 Caltex Masters in Singapore, had led by three strokes heading into the final day's play over the Old Course.

But the Liverpudlian saw that advantage swiftly disintegrate as he three-putted the first for a bogey and put his tee shot at the second into a bunker for another bogey.

Dougherty regained his composure and reeled off a trio of birdies from the fifth to keep his nose in front and, despite the menacing advances of Rose, McIlroy, Ernie Els and Paul Lawrie, held on to secure the biggest triumph of his career.

"This is a life-changing win for me but I felt very nervous at the start of the day," admitted Dougherty, who jumps to the top of the European Ryder Cup points table.

"I've been in this position before and it's not gone right but I spoke to my fitness coach, Ron Cuthbert, before going out and he told me to use the nerves as a positive thing.

"He said if I wasn't nervous it would be a bad thing and he told me to enjoy these moments. He was a real help.

"I got off to a pretty bad start but I trusted myself and my ability. I had some big players, like Ernie and Justin, chasing me but I got the job done. This is the win I've been after for two years and I'm very proud of myself."

Runner-up Rose, who closed the gap on Padraig Harrington in the race for the Order of Merit title after pocketing a consolation prize of £261, 577, saw his spirited challenge finally thwarted with a bogey at the 17th on his way to a 69.

McIlroy, the 18-year-old Ulster rookie, showed resilience and mental strength beyond his tender years to emerge from a turbulent spell on his inward half to post a battling 68 to clinch third place.

McIlroy, the former European Amateur champion, spilled a shot at the 12th before lashing his tee shot out of bounds at the 14th and racking up a double-bogey seven, but he responded in fine style and birdied the 15th, 17th and 18th to finish with a flourish and bank a cheque for £147,373.

He has now earned £157,924 from his two professional events and jumped to 110th on the money list and seems certain to become the youngest player - at 18 years and 156 days - to win his tour card in the shortest possible time.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia won his playing rights when he won his fourth professional event, the 1999 Irish Open, at the age of 19.

McIlroy said: "I knew at the start of the week I needed to do something pretty special to get my tour card and I am absolutely ecstatic."

England's Barry Lane mounted a final-day charge and fired a five-under 67 for a share of fourth with the 1999 Open champion Lawrie, whose bogey at the 17th on his way to a 71 handed McIlroy third place on his own.

Els had been making advances on Dougherty's lead having reached 17 under with three holes to play but a crippling triple-bogey seven at the 16th ended his hopes and he signed for a 71 which left him in a share of sixth with countryman Trevor Immelman.

Open champion Padraig Harrington, the Dunhill Links champion both last year and in 2002, could only muster a closing 73 and had to settle for a share of eighth.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible