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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2007 > European Tour > Alfred Dunhill Links Championship > Round 4


Nick Dougherty holds on to claim two shot victory

Nick Dougherty claimed his second European Tour title with a two-stroke victory in the Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Englishman has let two golden chances go begging this season, but a closing one-under 71 over the Old Course at St Andrews for an 18-under 270 total, left him two shots clear of fellow Englishman Justin Rose.

Rose posted a 3-under 69 and Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy secured his European Tour card for next year by finishing third a further stroke back after a 68.

At 18 he became the youngest professional to claim a card from tournament play.

Dougherty had lost two tournaments this season from winning positions, in March at the Singapore Masters, where he claimed his first title in 2005, and at the Italian Open two months later.

Starting three shots ahead of the field, it looked as though he might falter again when he bogeyed the first two holes but a run of three birdies from the fifth put him back on track.

Although tournament favourite Ernie Els was breathing down his neck coming home, Dougherty was never overtaken.

Els, who had drawn within a stroke of him at the 15th, triple-bogeyed the 16th by putting from off the green into a bunker, and his nearest rival Rose further eased the pressure by bogeying the 17th.

Despite also bogeying the 17th, Dougherty prevailed to pick up the $800,000 first prize.

However, when Dougherty three-putted the first and then bunkered his drive on the second to see his overnight lead cut to just one shot, he feared his old fragility had resurfaced.

"I was very, very nervous at the start," Dougherty told a news conference. "It all meant so much to me, as much as I didn't want it to.

"It's a life-changing win, there are so many personal goals involved, so it was so hard for me to go through the process of winning.

"But this time I trusted myself and I then made three birdies in a row.

"I've had a lot of opportunities since my first win, many squandered, so it's nice to get the job done, especially when I saw someone of the calibre of Ernie Els only a stroke behind.

"And before we started I expected it would be Justin who would be the one to put the heat on me, so it was good to get the better of him."

Rose's second place drew him to within 20,000 Euros of European Order of Merit leader Padraig Harrington, who finished tied for eighth.

The win also moved Dougherty to the top of the Ryder Cup European points table. "If only I can hang on. I really want to make that team," he added.

Dougherty's mentor Nick Faldo captains Europe's Ryder Cup team next year at Valhalla, Louisville, Kentucky.



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