England’s David Howell dramatically rolled in an eight foot birdie putt on the second hole of sudden death on the Old Course to beat talented young American Peter Uihlein and win the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
It was Howell’s first European Tour victory for seven years and 124 days – the last being the 2006 BMW PGA Championship – and a delighted Howell said: “It’s been a long time coming. I'm hoping this is going to be huge for me in many ways, because I have had many chances to win and I haven't been able to do it.
“All week I was nervous, I can't explain why. We all know it's a big week and we've all got lots to play for, but today I found a little more inner strength. I still struggled a little bit to get the pace on the greens under the intense pressure and all in all, I was really pleased with how I stayed in control and kept controlling my swing and holed the ones that I had to right at the end. It’s been an interesting seven years. I lost my way in life and on the course, as well, but now things are really good at the moment and I'm in a really happy place.”
Howell, 38, partnered actor Hugh Grant in the Team Championship. He said: “I used Hugh very badly today. I told him last night that I was going to laugh at all his bad shots just for my own entertainment. He's been a great partner for the four or five years we've played. We've had a lot of fun and it was great that he made the cut and I’m thrilled that he could watch me play some of the golf I always knew I could and haven't done over the years in his company. We have been a terrible partnership, a lot of fun, but no good results. But today changes that rather dramatically.”
Howell had a five-under-par final round of 67 for a 23-under-par total of 265. It was a round which featured a blistering outward 31, then he held on to play the back nine in par to fight his way into the play-off. He even coped when his drive at the 18th in normal play finished on the road. “I noticed my caddie Steve was having a bit of a mini‑tantrum himself when I ended up on the road there. That was obviously a little bit of a mistake.”
Runner-up Peter Uihlein added: “Hats off to David, he played great, made a nice birdie in the play-off and congratulations to him. He made more putts than I did at the end of the day. I just didn't make the putts when I needed and that's the way it is.”
One shot behind Howell and Uihlein were England’s Tom Lewis following an excellent eight-under-par 64, and Ireland’s Shane Lowry, with a 68. Lewis, who had the lead after the second round, said: “I played well all week. It was just a shame a couple more putts couldn’t go in and I messed up a couple of holes at Carnoustie yesterday [where he shot a third round 73].”