Persistence Pays Off For Wilson

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Wilson: Feelgood story

Wilson: Feelgood story

Oliver Wilson's comeback victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was a popular one - even with the man he pushed into second place.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy narrowly missed out on the title after finishing just one stroke off the pace, but like many of his fellow pros, he could not help but hail the 34-year-old Englishman's breakthrough victory.

Prior to the win, Wilson's story was a gloomy one. A leading player in Europe who produced a number of sterling performances to earn a place in captain Nick Faldo's 2008 Ryder Cup team, Wilson's form plummeted in the ensuing years to the point where he was forced to return to the feeder Challenge Tour and ply his trade there.

During his glory days between 2006 and 2009, Wilson came desperately close to winning an European Tour title, finishing runner-up an incredible nine times, but victory eluded him time after time.

By the time the 2014 season came around, however, he probably would have been more than happy with another second place. His form had dipped so badly that he lost his tour card altogether, and he had to rely on invite to even play in the big leagues.

His world ranking had dropped as low as 792 when he was given a rare opportunity to return to the European Tour and take part in the Alfred Dunhill by the tournament's sponsors.

Wilson had shown some encouraging signs on the Challenge Tour in the weeks leading up to the tournament, but nothing would have prepared him for what was to come at St Andrews - victory over the best player in the world, a £500,000 first-prize cheque for his troubles and a two-year exemption to return to the European Tour full-time.

As he sunk the winning putt on the 18th green, Wilson broke down in tears. The sense of relief after having struggled for so long was palpable.

"I don't have words for it. It's been ten years, 11 years coming," a still emotional Wilson said afterwards.

"There were nine runners-up and I hadn't done a whole lot to lose those, but nothing had really gone my way and this week, to be given a big opportunity by Dunhill to play - I can't thank them enough to give me an opportunity to do this - I guess it's what golf's all about.

"I know so many people had written me off and that hurt, but I just kept believing and a lot of people around me helped."

Wilson had always been a well-liked figure on tour, and his peers were clearly overjoyed at seeing him finally come good.

"Don't think I could've chosen a better person to finish 2nd to this week! Congrats @Oliver_Wilson so well deserved!" tweeted McIlroy on Sunday.

He wasn't the only one. Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Jamie Donaldson - even the legendary Gary Player - all were quick to congratulate Wilson on his achievement.

His victory proved that hard work and persistence pays off, and that nice guys don't always finish last - and that's certainly something worth celebrating.



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