(Reuters) – Frenchman Victor Perez made his first European Tour victory a big one, beating Englishman Matthew Southgate by one stroke at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews on Sunday.
Rookie Perez, in his 29th start on tour, took the lead when Southgate recorded a three-putt bogey from long range at the famous 17th Road Hole at the Old Course in Scotland.
Perez did not let the opportunity slip, making a rock-solid tap-in par at the final hole to become the first Frenchman to win the event at the home of golf, thanks to a closing two-under-par 70.
He celebrated in traditional style by swigging from a large bottle of champagne on the 18th green before giving his Scottish girlfriend a huge hug.
Perez, 27, who lives in nearby Dundee, also paid tribute to his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald, who previously worked for Rory McIlroy in all four of the Northern Irishman’s major victories.
“Obviously J.P. knows (St. Andrews) like the back of his pocket,” Perez said in a greenside interview. “It was a huge advantage for me to know where to hit it and really trust it.
“The emotions were really high all day. Matt played amazing (and) we were fortunate it was kind of a one-on-one battle on the back nine.
“Going down the last with a one-shot lead is all you can ask for and luckily I was good enough.”
Perez finished at 22-under 266, while Southgate remains in search of his first European Tour win after carding 71 to finish runner-up on 21 under.
Englishman Paul Waring and Swede Joakim Lagergren tied for third another shot back, while McIlroy tied for 26th, seven shots off the pace.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Clare Fallon)