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Perez’s passion for golf pays off with maiden win at the Home of Golf

September 30 2019

Victor Perez has become the first Frenchman to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship after moving to Scotland to embrace its culture of golf.

The 27-year-old rookie claimed his maiden victory on the European Tour with a 70 at the Old Course to finish with a 22-under par total, winning by a shot from Englishman Matthew Southgate. 

Southgate had led the way until a two-shot swing at the par-5 14th opened the door for Perez, who followed a birdie on the same hole with four pars to close and take the title. A missed six-footer on the 17th from the Englishman seemed to seal his fate as he offered up a slender one shot lead to the champion coming up the 18th. 

Southgate, a winner on the Old Course in the 2010 St Andrews Links Trophy, said: “It’s a difficult one to swallow, just losing by the one shot. But overall, it’s been a fantastic week. Victor played fantastic all day, and I’m chuffed to bits coming second to such a great bloke, really. We went sort of hammer and tong at each other. There has to be a winner, and it was always going to be a fine margin.” 

The breakthrough victory for Perez takes him to 20th in The Race to Dubai and into the top 70 in the world rankings.

Perez said: “It was a great win for me, and it's showed me that I can do it. Now the question is: how much can I replicate that moving forward? Obviously when you win, you want to ride the wave a little bit. 

“It wasn't easy. Matt played amazingly. I was expecting some of the other guys to charge and we were fortunate it was a one-on-one battle with Matt on the back nine. Hats off to him. He gave me a hell of a fight. I felt like it could have gone either way. I was able to make that birdie on 14 that really pulled me back and then just held strong till the end.”

For over a year, Perez has based himself in the city of Dundee where his girlfriend is a dentistry student and he credits the golf offerings in the area for getting him to where he is at with his game.

“I practise at Ladybank. I also work at Panmure quite a bit and then I go to Drumoig to play a few rounds because it’s right across the bridge from me from Dundee. I also come here to the Academy at St Andrews because I think they have done a fantastic job redoing the whole chipping area.”

“Obviously living in Dundee makes it more special. I think there were a number of reasons why I came here. I think that the culture of golf in Scotland should make almost every golfer want to come here, if you're in Continental Europe. 

“The people here live golf. It’s all about golf. It’s just the passion for the game. Golf is my life, I felt like I needed to be around a culture that would cherish that.”

Tommy Fleetwood put together one of the best rounds of the day with a 64 to finish on 19-under-par, but he had left it too late to catch Perez. However, he and amateur partner Ogden Phipps edged out Rory and Gerry McIlroy to claim the Team Championship. 

The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses - the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Golf Links.

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