It’s been a long time coming for Oliver Wilson, but the 34-year-old Englishman finally broke through, turning a sponsor’s invite into his first career win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
“I don’t have words for it. It’s been 10, 11 years coming, nine runners-up, and I haven’t really done a whole lot to lose those, but nothing’s really gone my way,” said an emotional Wilson immediately after the round. “This week to have the opportunity from Dunhill to play, I can’t thank them enough to give me the opportunity to play. I guess it’s what golf’s all about.”
Wilson, who started with the lead, admitted he “slept awful,” thinking about what his first win could do for his career, and it seemed to show early on at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
He made the turn at 1-over 37 but rallied, making back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 and another on 16 for a final-round 70.
Richie Ramsay had a chance to force a playoff, but his birdie putt on the final hole just missed, clinching the victory for Wilson.
McIlroy started the day three back of Wilson and promptly dug his hole even deeper with a double-bogey 6 on the first hole.
He bounced back with four straight birdies starting on the second hole and made the turn two off the lead.
McIlroy made three more birdies on the back side, but was doomed by a bogey on 17, finishing with a final-round 68.
It had been quite a dramatic fall for Wilson, who was once 45th in the world rankings after a runner-up at the 2008 PGA Championship. He also qualified for the Ryder Cup that year.
“I could be drunk for a while,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of champagne I’ve put on hold over the years. It will be a good party.”