Karlsson's sweet smell of victory in Cologne

Robert Karlsson clinched a timely first win for over two years when he took the Mercedes Benz Championship yesterday, the day before flying to Kentucky for the Ryder Cup.

A closing one-under-par 71 here at Gut Larchenhof for a four-round 13-under-par 275 total earned the Swede his eighth European Tour victory. He finished two strokes better than a charging Francesco Molinari of Italy (70). Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, Karlsson's Ryder Cup team-mate, finished third for a second successive week, four strokes behind Karlsson.

Karlsson went into the final day three shots ahead of the field and a birdie at the first quickly made up the stroke he had lost the previous day. He was penalised after the third round when it was decided his ball had moved when his putter was grounded on the second green on Saturday.

After allowing his final day advantage to be cut to only two shots with bogeys on the third and fourth holes, Karlsson regained control, extending his lead to six strokes by the seventh. Molinari refused to allow Karlsson an easy passage, though, and a bogey on the short 16th reduced the Swede's lead over his Italian playing-partner to two strokes. Molinari had run in four successive birdies from the 12th to keep the pressure on. However Karlsson made pars on 17 and 18 which were enough to earn him first prize.

All four Ryder Cup men in Germany finished in the top 20. Dane Soren Hansen's 69 left him a six-under 282 in eighth place, while Briton Graeme McDowell, like Hansen making his debut for Europe next week, carded a 71 to be two-under 286 in 16th spot.

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