Paul Dunne fires 61 to win British Masters, earn 1st Euro Tour title

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Paul Dunne fires 61 to win British Masters, earn 1st Euro Tour title

Euro Tour

Paul Dunne fires 61 to win British Masters, earn 1st Euro Tour title

HEDDON-ON-THE-WALL, England – Paul Dunne finally got his hands on a big British golf trophy.

The former UAB player earned his maiden European Tour win just over two years from when the golf world thought he might win the Open Championship at St. Andrews. A closing 9-under 61 gave Dunne the $4 million British Masters title.

The 24-year-old beat Rory McIlroy by three shots with a 20-under 260 total. McIlroy finished with a 63 to get to 17 under. Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, the 54-hole leader, finished third on 16 under.

Dunne earns a check for $672,400 and a two-year European Tour exemption. McIlroy picked up $448,262, while Karlsson pocketed $252,553.

Dunne began the final round one shot behind Karlsson. However, the 24-year-old surged into the lead by playing the first six holes in 5 under to reach 16 under and a commanding lead.

Birdies at the 11th and 13th, the former courtesy of a lucky bounce off a sprinkler head, took the Dublin native to 18 under. He finished with two birdies, including a chip-in at the par-3 18th hole to earn his maiden win.

“It feels great,” said Dunne, who made history in 2015 when he became the first amateur since 1927 to share the 54-hole lead in the Open Championship.

“I feel like (I’ve) been up there a few times this year and never got to put the foot down on Sunday, so I went out to try to make sure no one could take it from me.”

The Dublin native finally got over the line this time, although he wasn’t sure of winning until he chipped in at the last. No wonder. He led the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco earlier this year but lost in a playoff to Edoardo Molinari.

“I had a two-shot lead in Morocco and Edoardo finished birdie-eagle, so I was just waiting for the leaderboard to show Rory having a hole-in-one on the last or something.

“It’s nice to finally put the demon off my back and get my first win.”

Like Dunne, McIlroy was going for a first of his own: his first victory of 2017. The former World No. 1 has at least one victory in every season since 2009. He has one event left, next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, to keep the winning streak alive.

“It was just nice to have a chance to win a golf tournament, and the more chances I have like that the better,” McIlroy said.

“I couldn’t have done much more. I played well over the weekend. I feel my game got better once I had a sniff of the tournament, which is always good to see. I played well under pressure today.”

The four-time major winner just couldn’t match Dunne’s pace.

“Paul obviously played unbelievable today. To shoot 61 out there today going for your first tournament win is incredibly impressive. He fully deserves it.”

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