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Olesen hails 'very special' Links title

By Phil Casey

Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen overcame an early stumble to claim his third European Tour title in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Olesen carded a final round of 71 on the Old Course to finish 18 under par, two shots ahead of American pair Brooks Koepka and Chris Stroud.

England's Chris Wood fired a flawless closing 65 to finish a shot further back alongside Bernd Wiesberger, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Benjamin Hebert and Joakim Lagergren.

Olesen discovered a tendon problem in his left hand over the winter but battled on for four events - missing the cut in the last three - before undergoing surgery after his last appearance in Malaysia at the start of February.

The 25-year-old lost a play-off to George Coetzee in Mauritius in his first tournament back but had made the cut in just three of his 13 strokeplay events since, while also losing in the first round of the Paul Lawrie Match Play in Aberdeen.

That meant he came into the week a lowly 124th on the Race to Dubai, with just the top 110 retaining their cards at the end of the season, but the £525,000 first prize and exemption until the end of 2017 has solved all his problems.

"It's very special, I'm very emotional right now," Olesen said.

"It's been a very tough year and to stand here with this trophy is unbelievable, especially to win it on St Andrews. It's something you dream of when you are a little kid."

Graeme McDowell finished on 12 under with Darren Clarke on five under and Michael Hoey four under.

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