E. Molinari wins Johnnie Walker, Hanson and Jimenez earn Ryder spots

edoardo molinari
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Edoardo Molinari won the Johnnie Walker Championship Sunday for his second European Tour title in Scotland in the last two months.
By
Mark Garrod
PA Sport

Series:

Published: Sunday, August 29, 2010 | 12:33 p.m.

Edoardo Molinari won a dramatic Johnnie Walker Championship with three closing birdies at Gleneagles Sunday -- and then waited to see if it had earned him a Ryder Cup wild card.

The 29-year-old Italian, whose brother Francesco is already on the team, was two behind Australian Brett Rumford with three holes of the final counting event to play. He then two-putted the long 16th, sank a curling 30-footer at the 194-yard 17th and then hit a chip to within 18 inches of the final hole for three straight birdies.

"I still don't know, but I like my chances now," said Molinari, who won the Barclays Scottish Open two months ago, and with his brother gave Italy its first-ever World Cup victory last fall.

The problem for him was that four players ahead him on the world rankings at the start of the year -- in order Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose -- all needed one of the three wild cards as well.

But they had not helped their cause by deciding to stay in America for the FedExCup playoffs rather than come back to Europe and try to qualify automatically. Casey, Donald and Harrington all still had a chance to qualify in the final week.

Molinari's latest triumph, which left him an agonizing one point short of gaining automatic selection off the world points list, came with a 1-under-par 71 in the windy conditions.

Molinari, who in the past year has climbed from Europe's "second division" Challenge Tour into the world's top 20, took the title with a 10-under-par total of 278.

Rumford was second and then two shots further back were Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Molinari's brother, who had been the overnight leader and was still in with a chance until he closed with a bogey 6.

Jimenez and Sweden's Peter Hanson were able to start celebrating without waiting for the wild card picks to be announced. They did what they had to do to clinch the final two automatic spots for Celtic Manor on Oct. 1-3, while Simon Dyson, who began the week hoping that a win would get him into the side, finished sixth.

Jimenez needed a top-9 finish to make sure and was tied for third, while Hanson required a top-43 finish and was 19th.