Ollie reborn as he clinches first tour win at the Home of Golf
The Old Course served up a golfing feast at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as England’s Oliver Wilson beat world number one Rory McIlroy at the Home of Golf.
Wilson emerged from years in the golfing wilderness to clinch the first European Tour victory of a career that had stalled in recent years, defeating McIlroy, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and his compatriot Tommy Fleetwood to add to a long legacy of thrilling Sunday finishes at the Old Course.
Wilson’s gutsy two-under 70 for a 17-under 271 secured him a slender one-shot victory over the chasing pack, giving the 34-year-old from Mansfield opportunities he admitted he could only dream of just days before.
He told Links News: “Three, four weeks ago, it was looking pretty grim for my career. But it’s just amazing what is possible playing professional golf. Every week we have an opportunity and it’s up to us to take it and for so long I haven’t taken it.
“But to come here, to the Home of Golf with Rory, the best player in the world, in front of me and to win, is incredible. It means the world.”
A Ryder Cup player just six years ago, Wilson was languishing at 792nd in the world rankings and playing on invitations to the European Tour alongside Challenge Tour status.
After nine runners-up finishes during his early successful years, the Mansfield man proved a hugely popular winner with congratulations coming from former Ryder Cup teammates Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and world number one Rory McIlroy, who put his disappointing finish behind him to say, “Don’t think I could’ve chosen a better person to finish second to this week!”
With a three-shot lead going into the final round, Wilson swiftly found himself being chased by the growing pack, all mounting a series of menacing assaults.
However, in a rollercoaster of birdies and bogies it was Wilson who held it together superbly, his 4-iron into the 16th, which led to a vital birdie, was “probably the best shot of my life” while a brave and brilliantly executed up and down from 50 yards short of the Road hole for par cemented his place at the top.
To cap off his memorable day at the St Andrews, his wife, Lauren, surprised him on the 18th green having travelled north from their Mansfield home to support her husband.
“This is a dream come true,” the popular champion said to an appreciative crowd. “To win my first tour event at St Andrews, it doesn’t get any better than this.”