BMW International Open
BMW International Open
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Jimenez clinches title with closing 66

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez won the BMW International Open by two shots on Sunday as Europe's Ryder Cup campaign came to a close with the top-10 automatic qualifiers decided.

The chief successes in the tournament within a tournament, Europe's dramatic Ryder Cup table battle, were Ireland's Paul McGinley and Briton Ian Poulter.

There was disappointment, though, for Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson, who, despite a brave bid, failed in his attempt to qualify for Bernhard Langer's team by right.

Jimenez, one of Europe's Ryder Cup world points list qualifiers last week, clinched his fourth title of the year ahead of runner-up Thomas Levet of France, who also secured his spot in Langer's European team before the Munich event.

A closing six-under-par 66 for a 21-under total of 267 earned Jimenez the $370,000 first prize.

For the Ryder Cup hopefuls, the target in Munich was points and the players behind sixth-placed automatic qualifier Levet before the start of the week all earned enough.

Briton Paul Casey (65), after finishing tied for third with compatriot Colin Montgomerie (68), and Germany's Alex Cejka (65), five strokes behind Jimenez, retained his seventh place in Europe's final Cup table.

David Howell of Britain clinched his first Ryder Cup berth as the eighth automatic qualifier, finishing 10 strokes behind Jimenez after a closing 69.

Despite running up a quadruple-bogey and double-bogey, a courageous finish of six under par for his last eight holes lifted Poulter, after a 70, into the team as the 10th and final Cup qualifier after he had been overtaken by McGinley.

Poulter hit out-of-bounds to run up the double-bogey at the long sixth and then went into hazards on both sides of the course at the par-four 10th to run up an ugly eight.

Two eagles and two birdies coming home, including a 10-foot putt for a three at the par-five 18th, ensured Poulter, who finished one place short of Cup qualifying in 2001, would not be disappointed this time as he carded a 70 to finish at 10 under.

"As soon as I made the quadruple-bogey, I said to my caddie I had to do something unbelievable and unbelievable it was," said Poulter.

"I could easily have let the wheels fall off."

McGinley, starting the day in the 10th and final automatic place, was under extra pressure by playing alongside Jacobson, bidding to push his way into the Langer's team with a top-three finish at least to climb from 13th place in the table.

When Jacobson reached the turn in four under, the pressure had heightened for McGinley. But the Irishman, who holed the winning Ryder Cup putt at The Belfry in 2002, refused to buckle and his 68 lifted him into the ninth qualifying spot.

"I knew it would be a tough day because Freddy is a scrapper," said McGinley, after finishing at 15-under 273 in a share of sixth place in the tournament.

"But I came here knowing I'd have to fight, too. It's been a roller-coaster ride for the last few weeks but I got the bit between my teeth and, like a dog, I didn't want to let it go."

A remarkable six-week run by McGinley, who had an operation on his knee earlier in the year, including second in the Dutch Open and tie for sixth at the U.S. PGA Championship, gave him a welcome boost in his bid for Cup selection.

The Irishman is one of five qualifying Europeans who have not won a tournament in the Cup campaign, Darren Clarke, Casey, Howell and Poulter being the others.

Casey, Howell and Poulter will make their Ryder Cup debuts next month, along with Frenchman Thomas Levet.

A relieved Howell, who also came under threat with a late double-bogey on Sunday, said: "I suddenly felt all the pressure come on but I stuck at it and limped over the line."

Jacobson, who tied for sixth with McGinley, said: "At least I gave myself a chance and I'm proud of my front nine, but also a little bit disappointed I didn't keep it up."

Jimenez, who climbed to fourth in the European money list with his win, said: "I didn't have to worry about the Ryder Cup, so I could just put my mind to winning the tournament.

"This week has shown, though, that we are going to have a very strong Ryder Cup team.

 

 

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