Mon 8 Oct 18
The St Andrews galleries came expecting to see Tyrrell Hatton make history by winning his third consecutive Alfred Dunhill Links title, but Lucas Bjerregaard blew him off course.
After a shotgun start at 8.30am due to high winds, it was the 27-year-old Dane who came from four shots behind to win by one from Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood, and send the Old Course golf fans home saluting a great performance.
Bjerregaard was ten-under par at the start of the round but posted an excellent 67 in difficult conditions to claim his second European Tour victory.
The Dane’s superb round eclipsed the challenge of Hatton, who held a five-shot lead at one point before dropping four shots on the back nine and finishing with a level-par round of 72.
Hatton’s fellow Ryder Cup hero Fleetwood’s final-round of 69 was enough to tie second with Hatton on 14-under-par, but no more.
Bjerregaard said: “It was a great day. Obviously one of the best rounds I've played all year. It didn't really look like I had much of a chance. It looked like Tyrrell was going to run away with it. But I just kept going about my business.
“I knew the back nine was going to play tough, so I thought if I could throw in a few birdies there, I would still have a chance. I didn't rush it and they just slowly came. The one on the 16th was really nice.”
Bjerregaard revealed that he received inspiration from the European Ryder Cup win after being invited to Paris by fellow Dane, Thomas Bjorn, the team captain.
“I had never been to the Ryder Cup before, but Thomas was kind enough to invite me. He showed me around. I saw the team room and the locker room and I would lie if I said I wasn't inspired going home from there.”
Bjerregaard becomes only the second Dane to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship following Thorbjørn Olesen’s victory in 2015.
The pair also share the same coach, Scotsman Hugh Marr, while Bjerregaard's caddy is Jonathan Smart, who used to carry Danny Willett's bag and won the Team Championship with Willett in 2016. The Dane's first European Tour win was the Portugal Masters in 2017.
Tyrrell Hatton, winner in 2016 and 2017, said: “The momentum completely went after the tee shot on the 10th. I guess my putt on the last to get in the play-off sums it up, really. Just a massive gust of wind just knocks me off. I'm pretty disappointed because I had a five-shot lead at one point. It was in my hands.”
Australia’s Marcus Fraser started the day one behind Hatton but finished with a 77 to slip down the leaderboard. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher was also in contention but his round of 75 left him eight-under par, seven adrift of Bjerregaard.
The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses - the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the championship incorporates two separate competitions - an individual professional tournament for the world's leading golfers and a team event in which the professionals are paired with some of the most celebrated amateur golfers which creates a unique atmosphere.
Haotong Li and Allen Zhang became the first Chinese winners of the Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship and afterwards revealed the secret of their success: eating a hotpot meal together on the eve of their 11-under-par final round of 61 at the Old Course.
Rising professional Li and his amateur partner Zhang, the creator of WeChat, decided they needed to share a traditional Chinese dish as good luck ahead of the tournament’s last day.
It worked, too, with Zhang sinking the eventual winning putt – a five foot effort for a birdie on the 5th green, their penultimate hole after teeing off on the 7th hole in the shotgun start.
Li shot a six-under-par 66 to end the individual event in fifth place, and he earned an additional cheque of $50,000 for the 35-under-par team score alongside Zhang. It gave them a one-shot victory over second-placed Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee and American businessman Scott Desano.
“My partner played very well today – and his birdie, on a hole when he did not have a stroke, was a great moment for us,” said Li. “It is also history, pretty much, with us winning this competition.”
In third place were Spanish professional Nacho Elvira and his amateur partner John van Wyk, a South African businessman who has twice represented his country in the World Karting Championships. They shot an eight-under par 64 for a 32-under-par total.
Among the 20 teams which made the cut in the Team Championship were Australian cricket legend Shane Warne and former Ireland and British and Irish Lions rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll.
Warne and New Zealand professional Fox shot a final round 66 to tie for 12th place, while O’Driscoll and his partner, Irish professional Robin Dawson, could only manage a level par 72 to end up tied for 14th at 23-under-par.
In June 2011 the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation was established as the official Foundation of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The Foundation is committed to developing young amateur golfers in Scotland and South Africa and also supports the University of St Andrews and the St Andrews Pilgrim Foundation, which refurbishes and preserves historical monuments in the town.