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Perez is delighted to claim his maiden triumph

 

Victor Perez
Victor Perez

By Euan Parsons

Victor Perez secured his maiden European Tour title in his rookie season after edging a thrilling final-round battle with Matthew Southgate to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by one shot.

The 27-year-old osted a closing 70 at the Old Course at St Andrews yesterday to reach 22 under par and become the first Frenchman to win the tournament.

England's Southgate was alone in second a shot further back after he carded two bogeys on the back nine and failed to make the birdie he needed at the last to force a play-off.

Another Englishman, Paul Waring, and Swede Joakim Lagergren finished in a tie for third on 20 under, while England's Jordan Smith, Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Lewis and Matthew Jordan were in the group in a share of fifth alongside Jeunghun Wang.

Perez is no stranger to links golf in Scotland, having spent the last 18 months living up the road in Dundee, where his girlfriend attends dental school.

And he made the most of home comforts yesterday, carding three birdies and a solitary bogey to win on his 29th European Tour appearance.

Two-time Challenge Tour winner Perez said: "Obviously I'm very pleased.

"There are so many things that need to come together to win a golf tournament. There are so many great players that are still striving for their first win, and obviously it happened for me in my first year.

"I'm quite fortunate to be honest. Waking up this morning, you go out and you try to play as well as you can, but you don't know if somebody can go and shoot eight under - and then you lose by six and you felt like you did your job but you might be miles away.

"Obviously I felt like I had a solid day. I did my job and it was good enough, and next thing you know, you're a winner on the European Tour. You have to take it how it comes and it's a great win for me."

Perez, whose caddie is Rory McIlroy's former bagman JP Fitzgerald, took a one-shot lead to the 18th tee after Southgate bogeyed the 17th, and when they both made pars at the last, Perez secured the title.

Southgate said: "It's been a horrible season for me and this has sorted that right out and got us right back to the Race to Dubai and that's the goal for me.

"I think I've proven that when I do switch it on, I can mix it with the best."

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