The perfect birthday present for Alfred Dunhill winner Danny Willett
The champagne corks popped as Danny Willett celebrated his 34th birthday with one of the biggest wins of his career, the 20th Anniversary Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
The former Masters and Alfred Dunhill Team champion, most recently winner of the 2019 BMW PGA, shot a 68 on the Old Course for an 18-under-par total to win by two from Joakim Lagergren on 66 and Tyrrell Hatton’s 67.
He narrowly missed making it a double celebration with victory in the team championship with American amateur partner Jimmy Dunne, when his final putt slipped by the hole.
The Irish team of Michael Hoey and Maeve Danaher, the first female to win the title, held on for a memorable triumph.
Willet said: “It's been a good week.
"I had a great partner in Jimmy. Things have been good. I've always said if I get a bit of a sniff, I'm usually all right. And today was a nice example of that. Scoring was pretty low on that front nine, and we were able to fend off a few guys and play really solidly on the back nine.
“It's been a relatively average year till this. Fingers crossed now we've got six or seven events left till we put the clubs down at Christmas, so hopefully we can push on a bit from this.”
Willett started the day three ahead and went on to hole crucial birdies of his own at the ninth and tenth to maintain control.
It was his eighth European Tour victory, and he wins a first prize of £578,000 (US$783,000).
Danaher, a left-hander who putts right-handed, has a 22 handicap and plays most of her golf at Adare Manor in County Limerick, the host course for the 2027 Ryder Cup.
For Danaher the sweetest part about the win was that she beat her husband, Gerry McManus, who had also qualified for the championship’s final day in partnership with 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry.
It also continued a remarkable family run of success in this event, with Gerry’s brother JP McManus a two-time team competition winner in 2002 and 2006 and JP’s son, Kieran McManus, the holder of a record three team titles in 2009, 2014 and 2017.