Paul Dunne says his first European Tour title at the British Masters is down largely to a significant improvement in his mental approach following a thrilling climax at Close House.
The Greystones man fired seven birdies and an eagle in a closing 61 to finish 20 under par to fend off a late surge from Rory McIlroy, whose 63 was the lowest score of an injury-plagued season.
Dunne finished in real style, chipping in on the 18th to finish three shots clear of McIlroy and the 24-year-old was confident in his ability to see out the win.
"Rory made a great charge, but I got off to such a quick start that I had a lead.
"I knew that if I kept bogeys off the card and gave myself chances on the holes, then I’d be tough to catch, even if he did make a run," he said.
"I knew even if he birdied 16, 17 and 18, no matter who he is, if I play the last four under par I’d win. That’s all I was focusing on and to forget about who was chasing me."
Dunne hit just a single bogey in each of the previous three rounds, but went one better on the final round, which he says was the most pleasing aspect of his eye-catching 61.
He also enjoyed a slice of fortune on his way to victory.
"My game has been improving and I have definitely been improving mentally"
His approach to the 11th pitched into a sprinkler head on the edge of the green and bounced back to within five feet of the hole.
Dunne sprang to prominence after sharing the 54-hole lead in the 2015 Open Championship while still an amateur and says the victory was a culmination of his steady upward trajectory since turning professional.
"My game has been improving and I have definitely been improving mentally," he said.
"I have put myself in positions, not only to win, but last year when I was fighting for a card every Sunday, it was very important in terms of climbing leaderboards.
Great day for Irish golf. A new winner on tour @dunners11.Hopefully the first of many for the next generation of young Irish golfers.— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) October 1, 2017
"I learned a lot in the last year and that has really helped me, but no matter how much you learn, and how much you tell yourself you have learned, until you do it [win], it’s different.
"Once you do it, no one can take it away from you, so it means everything."