Home sweet home as Perez wins maiden title at Dunhill Links

London (AFP) –


Victor Perez clinched his first European Tour title after holding his nerve to pip Matthew Southgate by one shot at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday

In his rookie season, Perez recorded a final round of 70 at the Old Course at St Andrews 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.

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

The 27-year-old took full advantage of his home comforts, carding three birdies and a solitary bogey to win on his 29th European Tour appearance.

Perez, a two-time Challenge Tour winner, said: "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.

"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 began the day alongside Southgate at the top of the leaderboard but found himself in possession of the outright lead when his playing partner dropped a shot at the first.

His first birdie of the day came at the fifth when he got up and down from the rough to the right of the green.

But Southgate twice overhauled him to take the lead in a rollercoaster first nine holes.

Perez's deficit was extended to two strokes when he made a bogey at the short 11th.

But a two-shot swing at the par-five 14th saw Perez join Southgate at the top once more as he tapped in his close-range birdie putt to get to 22 under, while a poor pitch shot cost Southgate the outright lead.

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 had his hands on the trophy.