Dougherty holds nerve
Englishman ends 33-month title drought at St Andrews
Last Updated: 11/10/07 4:41pm
Dougherty poses with the trophy on the Swilken bridge
Nick Dougherty closed with a 71 to claim a two-shot victory at the Dunhill Links Championship.
Dougherty's 18-under-par total was two better than fellow Englishman Justin Rose, who signed for a three-under 69 on the final day at St Andrews.
Dougherty held a three-shot lead at the start of the day, but began with successive bogeys to immediately come back to the field.
However, three birdies in a row from the fifth put him back in front, and the Liverpudlian then closed out his second European Tour title - and first since January 2005 - by playing the back nine in level par.
The victory represents a welcome change of fortune for the 25-year-old after he had twice thrown away winning positions in the final rounds of the Singapore Masters and Italian Open earlier in the season.
Rose got within two shots of the lead with his fourth birdie of the day at the 15th, but a subsequent bogey at the difficult 'road hole' 17th ended his victory hopes.
Ernie Els had looked to be putting together an unstoppable charge when birdies at the 13th, 14th at the 15th brought him within one of Dougherty.
But the South African triple-bogeyed the 16th by putting from off the green into a bunker and eventually finished with a 71 for a share of sixth at 13-under.
Northern Irish teenager Rory McIlroy finished with three birdies in the last four holes for a four-under 68 that gave him third place on his own at 15-under in just his second professional event.
The 18-year-old's performance also saw him become the youngest player in European Tour history to earn a card from tournament play.
"I knew at the start of the week I needed to do something pretty special to get my Tour card and I am absolutely ecstatic," he said.
"There have been a lot of great players come into the game pretty young, obviously Tiger (Woods) and Sergio (Garcia) and I'm trying to take it all in my stride."
Barry Lane was a stroke further back at 14-under after storming up the leaderboard with a best-of-the-day 67. The veteran Englishman, who made a solitary Ryder Cup appearance back in 1993, played the front nine in just 32 strokes.