GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — Edoardo Molinari birdied the final three holes at Gleneagles on Sunday to win the Johnnie Walker Championship and secure a place on Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
The 29-year-old Italian received a wild card pick from European captain Colin Montgomerie, a few hours after shooting a 1-under 71 during the final round to beat Brett Rumford by a shot.
“I was under a lot of pressure out there because I did not know if second place was going to be good enough to impress Colin Montgomerie with the wild-card situation,” Molinari said. “So the win was very important to me.”
Molinari finished at 10-under 278. Overnight leader Francesco Molinari – Edoardo’s brother – shot 75 to share third with Wales’ Jamie Donaldson and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain. Jimenez also secured a Ryder Cup spot, as did Sweden’s Peter Hanson, who finished tied for 19th.
“My caddy told me on the 16th tee that with a couple of birdies I could still win and I feel fantastic to have been able to do that,” said Molinari, who trailed Rumford by two shots at the time, only to birdie the next two holes to draw even.
Rumford did not expect to be in contention for his third European Tour victory but, a pair of closing birdies left him with a 2-under 70 and the clubhouse lead.
“It was never going to be a day of low scoring,” he said. “The wind was very strong out on the course and very difficult to read.”
The decision by Jimenez to seek a late entry to play at Gleneagles rather than attend his nephew’s wedding in Malaga paid off.
He started the tournament in the ninth and last automatic qualifying place to play in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. An even-par 72, which left him at 7 under, earned him a share of third place and his fourth match against the United States team.
“It means a lot to me,” the 46-year-old Jimenez said. “It means more as you get older and now to be playing alongside the likes of Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy will mean I am playing with a third generation.
“My nephew and my family understood about the wedding – they told me I had to what I had to do, and that’s what I did.”
On a day of high winds and high scoring, Hanson also secured his Ryder Cup debut with a 73 and a 2 under finish. He had recently climbed into automatic qualifying position by winning the Czech Open.
“I was very tired coming here to Scotland and I have been battling not to think about making the team,” Hanson said. “But now I am going to celebrate.”