Oliver Wilson is set to tee off at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday 20 November to Sunday 23 November after securing his maiden European Tour win in his 228th event at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The 34 year old Englishman, who has plied his trade on the Challenge Tour for most of the last two seasons, won by one shot over Richie Ramsay, Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy and now moves to 39th in The Race to Dubai from 104th in the Challenge Tour Rankings. His winner’s cheque for €625,787 takes his season’s earnings to €635,067 from just four European Tour events and moves him ahead of the likes of Luke Donald (42nd), Paul Casey (46th) and Ian Poulter (60th) in the rankings.
“I don’t have words for it,” said Wilson, who played in the event as a tournament invite and had previously finished runner-up a record nine times on The European Tour without recording a win, with his last second place finish came at the 2009 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. “It’s been 11 years coming.
"There were nine runners-up and I hadn’t done a whole lot to lose those, but nothing had really gone my way and this eek, to be given a big opportunity by Dunhill to play, I can’t thank them enough to give me an opportunity to do this. I guess it’s what golf’s all about.”
The tournament, which also includes a Pro-Am team element, was played across the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie Golf Links and Kingsbarns Golf Links.
After setting the tone with a 64 at Carnoustie on Thursday and a solid 65 on Saturday at St Andrews, Wilson began the final round at the Old Course three shots clear of the field.
However, he lost the advantage early on the final day with a three-putt bogey on the fourth, and by the time Wilson carded his first birdie at the tenth hole, Ramsay, Fleetwood and Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy were all in contention for the title.
“Before I went out today I thought about how I’ve never gone out and won a tournament,” said Wilson.
“I’ve played alright coming down the stretch and not lost it and other guys have just got over the line ahead of me and today I was just trying to be patient.”
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay was on top of the leaderboard for a good part of Sunday but when he bogeyed 16 and 17, Wilson was able to take advantage. He retook the lead with a stunning approach shot on 16 that yielded a tap-in birdie and then brilliantly saved par on 17 to stay in the lead.
Fleetwood had a six-foot putt for birdie at the last to force a play-off but when he missed, Wilson celebrated his long-awaited maiden triumph on Tour.
”The shot I hit into 16 was probably the best shot of my life. Seventeen was hard work and at the last, Tommy had putted well and I thought he was going to make that,” said Wilson.
“When I came into the week I was almost just trying to make the cut. I got going and played well in practice and knew I was capable of putting a good tournament together, but you’re never sure if it’s going to happen.”
Wilson represented Europe in The 2008 Ryder Cup, finished seventh in The 2009 Race to Dubai with season’s earnings of €2,010,158 and was 48th in the 2010 rankings. But he lost his card at the end of 2012 and has since played on the Challenge Tour, finishing 42nd on the 2013 Challenge Tour Rankings and then struggling to find form this season before last week’s miraculous turnaround in fortunes.
He is now set to play at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai for the first time since 2010, when he finished 35th.
Joint runner-up Ramsay also made large strides in The Race to Dubai, moving from 63rd to 35th to secure his place in the season finale.
Another Scotsman, Chris Doak, shot a final round 66 to finish fifth, just two shots behind Wilson. Doak now jumps from 115th to 71st in the rankings and within touching distance of booking his ticket to Dubai next month.Rory McIlroy’s joint runner-up finish further solidifies his place atop The Race to Dubai rankings as he has more than double the prize money of second-placed Sergio Garcia.