Tyrrell Hatton retained his title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday after a final round at St. Andrews in which Ross Fisher shot a course-record 61 at the home of golf.
"To win your first tournament here at the Home of Golf is fantastic, but to back it up and successfully defend around these three courses is pretty unique and very, very special".
Hatton carded a six-under 66 to end the week on 24 under - breaking the tournament's lowest 72-hole total - to finish three strokes clear of nearest challenger Ross Fisher and become the first player to achieve back-to-back victories in the event.
However, Fisher shot lights out on Sunday as he broke the Old Course record with a spectacular 11-under-par-61.
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson stormed his way to third place in recording a 63 for 17-under par and his best finish in 11 months since tying for third at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.
Hatton put his second shot of the day into the Swilcan Burn but chipped in for par and birdied the second and third before holing a six-footer on the fourth and a tap-in on the par five fifth for a seven-shot lead.
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'I'm definitely a better player I feel than the player that won some of those tournaments and some of those majors, ' McIlroy said.
Yet although Fisher made history, he was only second for the second year in a row, and it was Hatton who took the £595,000 first prize, taking his winnings in this event in two years to a cool £1.2 million. "I've had a solid game the last few weeks but the results were not so good". Eleven shots off the lead, McIlroy is likely to finish a season without a victory for just the second time in his pro career.
"Unfortunately Tyrrell was too far ahead, but I managed to give him a little bit to think about coming down the stretch".
"Made myself very hard to catch, hopefully I can do that again tomorrow". At the same time, though, we surely don't want to see great courses being constantly overpowered and that, I'm afraid, is exactly what is happening on the Old Course in particular these days. "I didn't feel great over the ball".
Of the Irish, Paul Dunne finished on 13 under, 11 shots behind Hatton, after a closing round of 70 which was good enough for a tie of seventh place.
"So this old man is just trying to show them that I'm not over the hill yet".