CHORLEY golfer Nick Dougherty overcame an attack of the nerves to capture his second European Tour title in the £2.5million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

While Irish teenager Rory McIlroy all but clinched his tour card for next season in only his second event as a professional by finishing third, 25-year-old Dougherty closed with a one-under-par 71 for an 18-under aggregate of 270 and won the £392,368 first prize by two shots from compatriot Justin Rose.

Dougherty, who claimed his maiden title in the 2005 Caltex Masters in Singapore, had led by three strokes heading into the final day's play over the Old Course.

But the Shaw Hill golfer saw that advantage swiftly disintegrate as he three-putted the first for a bogey and put his tee shot at the second into a bunker for another bogey.

Dougherty regained his composure and reeled off a trio of birdies from the fifth to keep his nose in front and, despite the menacing advances of Rose, McIlroy, Ernie Els and Paul Lawrie, held on to secure the biggest triumph of his career.

"This a life-changing win for me but I felt very nervous at the start of the day," admitted Dougherty, who jumps to the top of the European Ryder Cup points table.

"I've been in this position before and it's not gone right but I spoke to my fitness coach, Ron Cuthbert, before going out and he told me to use the nerves as a positive thing.

"He said if I wasn't nervous it would be a bad thing and he told me to enjoy these moments. He was a real help.

"I got off to a pretty bad start but I trusted myself and my ability. I had some big players, like Ernie and Justin, chasing me but I got the job done. This is the win I've been after for two years and I'm very proud of myself."