Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard admitted he thought he had blown his chances of victory before a dramatic late twist saw him seal victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
Bjerregaard’s five-under-par 67 earned him a 15-under total of 273, enough to win by one stroke from Tyrrell Hatton and his fast-finishing Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood, whose 69 earned him a share of second place.
But it did not tell the whole story of a day which began early under the ‘shotgun’ system – in which all contenders start at the same time due to adverse weather – and with Hatton holding a four-stroke advantage.
Seeking his third consecutive win in the event, Hatton’s game held up through the first half of his round before four bogeys on the back nine gave the fast-finishing Bjerregaard a chance.
Despite missing birdie chances on the 14th and 15th, and finishing his round with a bogey on the 17th, the Dane still did enough to claim only his second career tour title when Hatton missed a birdie putt to force a play-off.
Bjerregaard said: “It wasn’t until the last few holes that I thought I had a chance.
“It was tough out there, the conditions weren’t easy and it never really looked like I was in it much until the end.
“I missed a couple of putts on the 14th and the 15th which I thought were crucial. But I got up on the green on 16 and saw the leaderboard had changed a little bit.”
Hatton at one point held a six-stroke advantage over Bjerregaard as he looked to become the first man to win three consecutive titles at the same European Tour event since Nick Faldo at the Irish Open in 1993.
And despite his game dramatically falling away, he still had a chance to force Bjerregaard into a play-off after the Dane had to settle for a bogey at the difficult ‘Road Hole’.
But Hatton’s bad day was complete when he rolled his 12-foot putt past the hole, confirming Bjerregaard’s first tour title since his triumph at the 2017 Portugal Masters.
“I’ve seen a few putts this week that were super-fast because of the wind, and obviously he misjudged it and it was a shame to finish like that,” added Bjerregaard. “But I’m just happy that it was enough.”