Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

European Tour courses ‘too easy’ says frustrated McIlroy

Rory McIlroy (SNS Group)

Rory McIlroy: courses not set up hard enough (SNS Group)

Rory McIroy left St Andrews with some stinging criticism of the European Tour on Sunday, saying too many courses are “too easy”.

The Northern Irishman finished with an impressive score of 70-66-70-67 in the Alfred Dunhill Links championship but was still seven behind winner Victor Perez and finished 26th.

“I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy.

“I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough. There are no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back and it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be.

“It happened in the Scottish Open at Renaissance. It’s not a good test. I think if the European Tour wants to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and set-ups need to be tougher.”

For the remainder of 2019, he will play just two more European Tour events: the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

It wasn’t quite the home winner the St Andrews crowd had craved but to see Dundee-based Frenchman Victor Perez crowned the Alfred Dunhill Links champion wasn’t a bad alternative for the fans.

The 27-year-old claimed his maiden European Tour title over the Old Course to become the first rookie to win the tournament – just 15 miles from the place he currently calls home.

Victor Perez, pic SNS

Victory: Perez (pic: SNS Group)

It was a tense battle throughout as Perez locked horns with his playing partner Matthew Southgate, having both shared a two-stroke lead heading into the final day.

Perez was one stroke behind the Englishman heading into the back nine despite a flawless two under front nine. A dropped shot at the par 3 11th meant he dropped further off the pace but a birdie at the par 5 14th for the 2018 European Challenge Tour graduate, and a bogey for Southgate, meant a two-shot swing had them level going down the stretch.

Southgate’s missed par putt at the 17th was decisive as Perez edged ahead and two pars at the famous final hole at the Home of Golf earned Perez – who lives in Dundee with his partner Abigail – a career-changing victory as he moved to 17th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.

“Obviously there’s nothing like a win,” said Perez. ” The confidence that you get from getting it done, it’s so difficult at this level to win. Being my first year, I’m obviously delighted.

“I was fortunate it was my time.

“The format is awesome. I think it’s a chance for the amateurs to see from inside the ropes and connect with the players, which is something that they strive and they love to do and chat with us and ask what clubs we hit and why and all these kind of questions.”

Richie Ramsay was the best-placed Scot, finishing tied 10th, four shots behind Perez after a closing round of 68.

Tommy Fleetwood, meanwhile, won the team prize in the unique Pro-Am event alongside partner Ogden Phipps II, pipping Rory McIlroy and his father Gerry to the title.

Leading final scores:

266 V Perez (Fra) 64 68 64 70,
267 M Southgate (Eng) 65 66 65 71,
268 P Waring (Eng) 65 68 65 70, J Lagergren (Swe) 69 62 68 69,
269 T Fleetwood (Eng) 66 69 70 64, J Smith (Eng) 64 68 68 69, J Wang (Kor) 70 65 66 68, M Jordan (Eng) 66 64 71 68, T Lewis (Eng) 70 70 65 64.

Select others:

270 R Ramsay (Sco) 65 67 70 68
271 R Knox (Sco) 66 66 70 69
273 R Macintyre (Sco) 71 66 66 70, C Hill (Sco) 66 65 70 72, R McIlroy (Nir) 70 66 70 67
276 S Jamieson (Sco) 69 66 72 69

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