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Miguel Angel Jimenez wins in a playoff

Miguel Angel Jimenez held his nerve in a three-way playoff to win the French Open title on Sunday.

Jimenez’s par on the 18th, the first extra hole, ended the hopes of compatriot Alejandro Canizares and Italy’s Francesco Molinari after the trio finished a stroke ahead of the field.

Jimenez had looked a safe bet to earn his second title of the season and 17th overall, but he sent the final round into the playoff by finding the lake with his approach on the 18th to double-bogey.

It left him with a closing four-under 67 to match Molinari. Canizares had a final-round 68 as all three finished on 11 under for the tournament.

The playoff was full of errors, Canizares hitting into the lake twice and Molinari taking four to find the green.

However, although Jimenez again missed the green, the 46-year-old stayed calm to hole a 12-footer for his par.

Molinari had holed from twice that distance for bogey to put the pressure on Jimenez.

“It was very dramatic, I made it dramatic,” Jimenez told reporters. “But my experience probably helped.”

The 500,000 points he earned for his victory sent Jimenez to the top of the European Ryder Cup points list and into fifth place overall on the combined table of the nine automatic qualifiers.

If he makes Colin Montgomerie’s side to play the United States in October in Wales, he will be the oldest European to take part in the match since Europe entered the competition in 1979.

“This is probably my last chance to play in the Ryder Cup,” Jimenez said. “I’m taking it week by week, but if I do make it I will be very proud to be in Monty’s team.”

Canizares’ consolation was that he clinched the British Open spot available to the highest finisher in the top five not already qualified for St Andrews.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy missed the playoff by a stroke but took fourth place with a closing 66. Englishman Danny Willett (68) was a further two strokes back in fifth.

Martin Kaymer, last year’s winner at the National course, began the day a stroke ahead of the field and two better than Jimenez.

The German could not find top form but fought his way back into the reckoning and was only a stroke behind Jimenez until hitting his approach into the lake at 15.

That left Kaymer four strokes off the pace and ended his chances. A further double-bogey at 18 consigned him to a share of sixth place, four shots adrift of the playoff.

The National’s infamous closing holes took their toll with other players, costing them thousands of dollars in prize money.

Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, the first round front-runner, was tied for the lead playing the 15th but then came to grief with a sextuple-bogey 10 by hitting into water three times.

Kenneth Ferrie of Britain was only a stroke off the lead when he came to the 18th but ran up a quintuple-bogey nine by finding two hazards.

Scores

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