Oliver Wilson wins first European title at Dunhill Links

Oliver Wilson
Oliver Wilson held on to his overnight lead at St Andrews to win his first title
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship leaderboard
-17 Wilson (Eng); -16 Fleetwood (Eng), McIlroy (NI), Ramsey (Sco); -15 Doak (Sco); -14 Lowry (Ire), Oosthuizen (SA), Sterne (SA); -13 Koepka (US), Wood (Eng)

World number 792 Oliver Wilson held on to win his first European title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The Englishman, making his 228th start, finished ahead of a chasing pack which included world number one Rory McIlroy to win by one stroke on 17 under par.

Wilson played in the 2008 Ryder Cup but lost his European Tour card in 2012 and needed an invite to play at St Andrews.

"So many people had written me off and that hurt, but I kept believing," said Wilson, 34, who wins almost £500,000.

"A lot of people had a part in this and I can't thank them enough. This is pretty special.

"I could be drunk for a while - it's been a long time coming and I have a lot of champagne on hold. It's going to be a good party."

Oliver Wilson career record
A member of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team in 2003, he turned professional later that year
Finished second nine times, including the 2008 PGA Championship at Wentworth and 2009 HSBC Champions and Alfred Dunhill Links, between 206 and 2009
Made Ryder Cup debut in 2008, coming back from four down to beat Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson in the second day foursomes alongside Henrik Stenson
Finished seventh in the European Tour rankings in 2009 and had a career-best world ranking of 45
Prior to this victory held the record for most money won without winning on the European Tour
Played in two Masters, four US Opens, four Opens and three US PGAs between 2006 and 2010

His compatriot and playing partner Tommy Fleetwood had a chance to send the tournament into a play-off but missed a 10ft putt for birdie on 18 to hand the emotional Wilson victory and a two-year European Tour exemption.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy and Scotland's Richie Ramsay finished on 16 under par alongside Fleetwood.

Wilson, who was ranked 104th on the second-tier Challenge Tour before his win with earnings this season of around £10,000, dropped just one shot in his final round of 70.

"I don't have the words for it," he added. "It's been 10-11 years coming, and nine runner-up finishes where nothing really went my way. To have the invite to play here, I can't thank people enough.

Golf stars on Twitter
Rory McIlroy:external-link Don't think I could've chosen a better person to finish second to this week! Congrats @Oliver_Wilson so well deserved!
Ian Poulter:external-link The biggest win of 2014 just happened @Oliver_Wilson wins the Dunhill Links. Congrats mate, keeping the faith & never giving in. I can't tell you how happy every player on Tour will be. It's been a long road back.
Luke Donald:external-link Just saw that @Oliver_Wilson won the Dunhill. Keep believing, keep working and good things will happen. Congrats Oli, really happy for you.

"When I came here at the start of the week I was just trying to make the cut and each day my confidence grew.

"I didn't play as well today but I finished second a few years ago and knew what to to and I was pleased how I stood up to hit some really good shots.

"I've been playing pretty well but I went to see Rob Rock two weeks and spent a lot of time working with him on my swing, and he gave me confidence to go and play."

Wilson, who splits his time between his native Mansfield in England and Augusta, Georgia, came into the final round with a three-shot lead but lost it over the front nine.

Rory McIlroy waits to play the 17th
McIlroy dropped vital shots at the first and 17th holes at St Andrews

McIlroy got off to the worst possible start when he double bogeyed the opening hole after seeing his ball spin back into the Swilcan Burn, but bounced back with four straight birdies.

Chasing his fifth win of the season, McIlroy was tied for the lead down the back nine but bogeyed the difficult 17th when he rolled his putt from off the green into the Road Hole bunker.

Playing the pro-am event alongside his father Gerry, who was celebrating his 55th birthday, McIlroy birdied the 18th to get within one but just came up short.

"I probably lost it on those two holes, the first and the 17th but it was fantastic to play with my dad and for him to play St Andrews on his birthday was very special," said McIlroy.

Oliver Wilson of England is congratulated by his caddie John Dempster
Wilson produced a gutsy final round to secure his maiden victory
Oliver Wilson
Wilson's victory delighted tournament officials and his fellow players
Oliver Wilson of England holds the trophy aloft on the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole
Wilson posed with the trophy on the famous Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole at St Andrews