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Dundee’s favourite Frenchman Victor Perez ends his dry spell with a thrilling play-off win at the Dutch Open

Victor Perez won his second DP World Tour title in the Netherlands.
Victor Perez won his second DP World Tour title in the Netherlands.

Victor Perez, the French professional who makes his home in Dundee, is back in the winners’ circle after a thrilling play-off victory in the Dutch Open.

Perez holed one long birdie putt after another in sudden death against New Zealand’s Ryan Fox. The longest of them claimed victory on the fourth play-off hole at Bernardus Golf in Cromvoirt, near Tilburg.

It’s the 29-year-old first win since his breakthrough triumph in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2019. By March 2021 Victor was 30th in the world and a contender for a Ryder Cup spot. But a loss in form had seen him slump to 153rd in the World Rankings until this win.

Double-bogey opens the door for Perez

Fox, the son of the legendary All-Black stand-off Grant Fox, seemed to have the title in his hands in regulation with a two-shot lead playing the par-five last. However a double-bogey seven cost him with Perez getting a birdie two at 17. The pair finished one shot ahead of Poland’s Adrian Meronk on 13-under totals of 275.

Fox looked the favourite most of the time as they played the 18th three times in the play-off, but Perez kept holing out when all seemed lost.

Victor had missed a birdie chance on the last to win in regulation. But his putter got right straight away, a 20-footer for a birdie at the first extra hole with Fox well inside him.

Perez needed to hole testing putts at the second and third extra holes to keep the contest alive. Then when the play-off switched to the short 17th, Fox again looked the more likely on the top tier of the undulating green.

However Perez holed again for birdie, up the slope from 40 feet. Fox couldn’t follow him in and the Frenchman had won.

‘It was just a bit of magic’

“There’s a good amount of fortune in this, I’ve got to be honest,” said Victor. “It’s kind of hard to put it all into words.

“It was a long day, and Ryan was off and flying for a while. We didn’t really think we were going to have a chance. Coming down 16 I thought I was going to have birdie the last three.

“My caddie James told me not to look at the leaderboards and it turned out the birdie at 17 was enough. In the play-off, it was just a bit of magic.

“You never know what’s going to happen in golf. Guys come out of nowhere to win tournaments, guys take huge leads and get pulled back. You’ve just to focus on you, and fortunately it fell on the good side for me today.”

The bonus is that the Dutch Open was the first qualifier on the DP World Tour for the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews. Perez, Fox and Meronk all booked their places at the Old Course in July.

‘The biggest Championship in the world’

“I think it would be the biggest Championship in the world to win, and you can only win it if you’re part of it,” said Victor.

“I think I’m in a good position, living there, having won there, playing obviously really well right now. I saw the other day that we were 50 days away, so it’s really around the corner. It will be fantastic. It’s a great opportunity and I look forward to it.”

Although originally from Tarbes in South West France, Perez’s partner Abigail was studying at the University of Dundee’s Dental School which led to him setting down roots in the city.

A well-known figure at golf facilities in Fife and Angus and at local clubs, Victor has stayed in Dundee after Abigail graduated and went into practice in Angus.

Abigail flew out to the Netherlands on Sunday morning and was present at the moment of Victor’s win.

The best Scottish finisher was Stephen Gallacher on three-under, tied for 24th place.

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