Jamie Donaldson has booked his place in the European team at this year’s Ryder Cup by winning the Czech Masters by two shots.
The Welshman held off the challenge of his countryman Bradley Dredge to scoop the £128,000 prize and qualify via the European list.
Donaldson, 38, hit six birdies in a four-under-par 68 to reverse a two-shot deficit after a third-round 71 left him trailing Dredge after leading over the first two days.
At the start of the week Donaldson needed £24,000 from the Prague tournament and next weekend’s Italian Open to ensure he tees off at Gleneagles without fighting a host of other names for qualification from the world points list.
He was in a strong position to do that anyway and occupied the eighth of nine automatic spots, but his victory in the Czech Republic means he no longer has to worry about Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher breathing down his neck.
“This is big – it’s been an amazing week,” he told the European Tour website. “I needed to play well either this week or next week, or both, to guarantee my place in the Ryder Cup team so there was a lot on the line. I played really well, so that’s great.”
Donaldson hit three back-to-back birdies to start his round in style and picked up a further shot, with bogeys on the fourth and 17th holes, to nudge him to 14 under overall. Dredge could only manage a par 72 after dropping shots at the third and 17th holes.
The victory is Donaldson’s third European Tour title and he savoured the moment, adding: “Winning is everything. Wins shoot you up world rankings, the Race to Dubai, all sorts. It’s massive. Those three last holes coming in there were really tough, with the wind blowing, so I’m just really happy to seal it.
“It’s so difficult to get into the team; the lads are playing so well. You know that you have to play well to secure your place and it did come down to the wire. But that’s how it is to get into the team – I played as well as I can play for 18 months, and then a couple of slow events and you rocket down the list, so it’s great to do enough to get into the team.”
Dredge finished one ahead of Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and South African Merrick Bremner to be a runner-up for the second time in a fortnight, but the 41-year-old was not too disheartened and congratulated Donaldson.
“I was trying to keep the pressure on and try to force the other guys into mistakes, but to be fair to Jamie he played great and I’m pleased he’s secured his place in the Ryder Cup,” Dredge said.
Gallacher finished in a share of seventh place on seven under par. The Scot still needs a good performance in Italy this week to book his own place on Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup team.
He said: “The week went pretty well – bit disappointed with today. I didn’t really play that well, but top 10 if you’re not firing is quite good.”