It was an eventful final day at the Alfred Dunhill Links championship which saw Danish professional, Lucas Bjerregaard, take home his second European Tour title.
From the very beginning, this final round was sure to provide excitement with Sunday’s weather forecast predicting winds of up to 40 miles per hour. That led to the tee-off times for all players set back to 8:30am, with each group starting at different tees.
The day began with Hatton one ahead and looking to seal his third consecutive Dunhill victory. After a birdie on the third hole of the Old Course, he moved into the clear at the top of the leaderboard and victory appeared to be in his sight. He was followed closely by Brooks Koepka who, thanks to three birdies through the first five holes, moved to 12-under-par. That put him five shots behind Hatton, whilst a strong start from Tommy Fleetwood with two birdies in the first six holes, put him just four shots the leader.
Australian Marcus Fraser maintained his score of 14-under-par through the front nine, but by the turn Hatton was sitting pretty on 18-unde-par, four clear of Fleetwood and Bjerregaard, with Koepka not much farther behind.
However things started to go downhill for Hatton; he bogeyed both the 10th and 11th holes – in birdieing the 11th, Fleetwood had moved to within two shots of the lead.
With six holes to play, Hatton still led on 16-under-par, followed closely by Bjerregaard on 14-under-par with only five holes to play and Fleetwood on 13-under. Koepka was one shot further back at 12-under, but with six holes to play it seemed that the race for the top spot would be between Hatton, Bjerregaard and Fleetwood.
Another birdie (his fifth of the round) saw Bjerregaard move to within one shot of Hatton and Fleetwood’s birdie on the 15th put him at only two shots behind the leader. A third bogey for Hatton on his back nine saw him drop back to sharing the lead, for the first time in this round, with Bjerregaard.
As Hatton dropped another shot he joined Fleetwood on 14-under, with that bogey putting Bjerregaard in the lead on 15-under still with two holes to play. A birdie on the 16th hole put Bjerregaard two shots ahead at the top.
Fleetwood finished the day on 14-under, tied for second place with Hatton who was playing the 18th. Hatton seemed to struggle in the high winds and couldn’t replicate Saturday’s performance, only recording a 72. That meant Lucas Bjerregaard was the winner of the championship after a whopping 24 birdies over 72 holes throughout the tournament. He’s only the second Dane to win the Dunhill after Thorbjørn Olesen’s win in 2015. Bjerregaard’s last tour title was the 2017 Portugal Masters.
Brooks Koepka’s positive start petered out, as he finished with an even-par 72, leaving him at nine-under-par for the tournament, whilst Marcus Fraser struggled with the conditions, losing five shots over the course of the round to finish outside the top 10.
In terms of the amateurs, the winners of the team competition were Allen Zhang, creator of the Chinese WeChat multi-purpose messaging service, and his professional partner Haotong Li of China who is currently 22nd in the European Tour. Li mastered the early start and unconventional format, clocking the best round of the day with a 66 to finish tied for fifth alongside Andrea Pavan in the professional tournament.
Dunhill loyal Hugh Grant was playing alongside English professional David Howell, after a year hiatus from the tournament. Unfortunately they didn’t make the cut after the third round but Grant did speak to The Saint about the lure of St Andrews and this unique tournament.
Grant relayed his experience of the tournament saying that the beauty of St Andrews was “a comfort…when you just dunced your 40-yard pitch”.
He also added “What I love about St Andrews, which makes me sound old and wet, is the beauty, it’s just unbelievably beautiful. Waking up in the morning, watching the weather change.”
Congratulations to all the players for an excellent tournament and especially to Lucas Bjerregaard on an impressive victory.