Sweden’s Peter Hanson leapt from 15th to eighth in Europe's Ryder Cup race on Sunday after winning a dramatic and nerve-wracking Czech Open with an 18-foot playoff putt.
And it means that Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Justin Rose cannot all play at Celtic Manor in October. Captain Colin Montgomerie will have to leave one of them out when he names his three wild cards next Sunday.
Hanson, who was’ot even in the penultimate event of the yearlong points race until he received a last-minute invitation last Monday, looked like he would blow a four-stroke 54-hole lead as the pressure mounted on the final day. But the 32-year-old birdied the long 16th, then parred the last two to tie Irishman Peter Lawrie and England's Gary Boyd on the 10-under-par mark of 278.
They had shot 66 and 68 to his error-ridden 74, but after all parred the first extra hole Hanson took his chance on the next after the other two had both missed their birdie attempts.
"To make that putt feels fantastic," he said after taking his European Tour playoff record to three wins out of three. "And to know I had to come here and win (to climb into the top nine on the points table) and pull it off feels great. There's another week to go, but it looks so much better now."
Controversially, Casey, Harrington, Donald and Rose have all elected to stay in America for the start of the money-spinning FedExCup playoff series rather than travel to Gleneagles for the Johnnie Walker Championship. Now one of them will pay the price -- and it could be more than one because Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, whose brother and World Cup-winning partner Francesco has secured a spot, needs a wild card as well.
Hanson would have settled for climbing to ninth, but he goes to eighth because Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez managed only a closing 73 on the Prosper Resort course he designed. That dropped him from a tie for second overnight into a tie for seventh, and it could cost him dear.
The 46-year-old does not intend to go to Scotland either, preferring to attend a nephew's wedding, and could be knocked out of the team by Ross McGowan, Simon Dyson or Alvaro Quiros.
Dyson would have gone into the top nine by winning on Sunday, but a 72 saw him slip from a ti for second to fifth. He, like Quiros, will have to win next Sunday to make the team, while McGowan, tied for 25th, needs a top-two finish.
Like Francesco Molinari, Irish Open champion Ross Fisher will head to the final event knowing his first Ryder Cup berth is in the bag. They chose to rest this week, and the results of Jimenez and McGowan make it certain they will join Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter on the side.
Hanson was buckling under the pressure when he had three successive bogeys from the second and then double-bogeyed the 12th after grabbing back the lead.
Lawrie set the clubhouse target thanks to an amazing burst around the turn when he birdied the eighth and ninth, pitched in from 90 yards for eagle on the 10th and birdied the next two.
Tour rookie Boyd, with no previous top-10s on the circuit, led after a front-nine 31, three-putted the 11th and 15th for bogeys and the 16th for par, but then made a 12-footer from the back fringe on the last.
Lawrie's chip on the first extra hole hit the cup, but stayed out. If it had gone in, Hanson would have only gone up to 11th on the Ryder Cup list. Instead he achieved what he set out to and can now only lose his place if Dyson wins next weekend and McGowan comes in second.