IT wasn’t the quickest procession to a coronation here at Close House. You probably could’ve walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall in the time it took the final three-ball to complete the last round at the British Masters but, in the end, it was worth the wait for Irishman Paul Dunne.

Winning a maiden European Tour title is always something to savour but doing it by closing with a sparkling nine-under 61 and beating Rory McIlroy to the prize by three shots makes the sense of achievement all the greater.

Dunne started his closing 18 holes by chipping in from off the green on the first for a birdie. He polished it off by doing exactly the same on the last to gild the lily as he finished with a 20-under tally. It was quite an afternoon.

Even those fickle golfing gods looked down on him kindly. On the 11th, for instance, his approach to the green hit a sprinkler head and bounced back to within five-feet of the flag from where he made birdie.

On another day, his ball could have careered off into treacherous, card-wrecking territory. “That was a big break but I’ll not complain about getting it,” he said with a smile.

Once he got his nose ahead and took charge with an early thrust which saw him cover his first six holes in five-under, Dunne remained as solid as the rivets on the Tyne Bridge as he put together a composed display of front-running golf.

A couple of years ago at St Andrews, Dunne led the Open Championship heading into the final round while still an amateur but ballooned to a 78 amid the overwhelming burden of it all. Yesterday was a different kettle of fish, though, and Dunne seized his moment with style.

“I wanted to go out and play to win as opposed to someone handing me the win,” said Dunne, who missed out on a first title earlier this season when he lost a play-off in Morocco. “I’ve got into a better mind-set at the weekends this year. Previously I was thinking about just making enough to keep my tour card. Now I’m playing to do well not playing not to do badly if that makes sense.

"Once I got in front, I just wanted to keep pushing. There were lot of great players here this week and I take a lot of satisfaction form the fact that I can beat players of that calibre.”

Dunne needed to be bold and brave because McIlroy had the bit between his teeth. In an injury-hampered season, which will be brought to a close on Scottish soil in this week’s Dunhill Links Championship, McIlroy reeled of weekend rounds of 64 and 63 – his best ever closing 36-hole total on the tour – but it wasn’t enough to earn a first win of the year as Dunne staved off those menacing advances.

McIlroy applied the pressure on the back-nine and birdied five of his last seven holes. After signing his card, he was just one shot behind Dunne and waited in the recording hut just in case there was a late wobble from the leader. There was no chance of that, though. Dunne finished with a flourish and surged over the line with a brace of closing birdies.

“I went from thinking I had chance to losing by three,” said McIlroy after posting his best finish since a second in South Africa back in January.

“But it was nice just to have that chance to win. I’m much more engaged when I get a sniff. I set myself a target of 17-under and got to that.

"I did everything I could but for Paul to shoot 61 for a first tour event win is unbelievable. He didn’t let the occasion get to him and it’s well deserved.”