Rory McIlroy produced an electric final round charge at the British Masters to finish second, three shots short of his first win of the season.

After a disappointing and winless 2017, the 28-year-old went 64-63 through the weekend at Close House Golf Club to produce his best finish since January as Paul Dunne earned his maiden European Tour title.

McIlroy headed into the final round in Newcastle full of momentum. An opening 67 and 69 left him at four-under-par before a 64 on Saturday propelled him to within two shots of the lead.

He took that heat into the front nine on Sunday, too. All pars except for three consecutive birdies between the sixth and eighth left the world-number-six tied second, albeit three shots off Paul Dunne’s convincing lead.

A failed up-and-down on the 11th weakened McIlroy’s threat as he dropped to four shots away from the lead. An approach to five-feet on the following hole set up an immediate comeback with a birdie to regain lost ground.

As McIlroy made a second consecutive birdie on the par-five 13th, Dunne showed his first sign of faltering with a wayward drive on the 12th but he would scramble a par to keep his lead at three.

Sinking a 10-foot putt on the 14th meant McIlroy went back-to-back-to-back birdies for the second time in the round and, for the first time, moved to solo second within two shots of Dunne.

Dunne took a comfortable birdie on the par five 13th and McIlroy looked to have set up the perfect response with a tricky approach to four-feet on 15. He would drag the resulting putt left of the hole and miss out on what could have been a pivotal fourth consecutive birdie.

Another birdie chance was set-up on the 16th from 10-foot. This time he would capitalise and pile pressure on the leader, now just two shots ahead, who still had four to play.

Dunne continued to rack up pars as McIlroy made his fifth birdie in six holes and headed to the 72nd hole of the week with one shot separating him from a share of the lead. His tee-shot on the par three 18th gave him a 30-foot chance at a birdie finish. It strayed right and left the outcome resting on the finish of Dunne.

The 24-year-old secured a birdie on the 17th to move two ahead meaning only a double-bogey on the last would force a play-off. A superb chip-in birdie would follow and wrap up a 61 and three-shot victory over McIlroy.

 

McIlroy is scheduled to have one start left this year, at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship next week, to salvage a victory and ensure he doesn’t go winless for a calendar year for the first time since 2008.

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