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Late birdies seal win for Edoardo Molinari

Edoardo Molinari brilliantly birdied the last three holes to clinch the Johnnie Walker Championship title by one stroke on Sunday, and less than 90 minutes later was named as a Ryder Cup wildcard selection.

A one-under 71 for a 10-under total of 278 allowed the Italian to pip Australian Brett Rumford (70) by a shot, a result that earned him one of three picks from European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie for October’s clash with the U.S.

“In my time as a player on the European Tour I don’t think I’ve seen a finish of that quality under that pressure ever,” Montgomerie told a news conference after choosing Molinari, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald as his wildcards.

“That’s the kind of player we need to regain the Ryder Cup.”

With three holes left Molinari was two shots adrift of Rumford but rolled home a spectacular, swinging 40-foot putt with a 12-foot break on it on the short 17th, inbetween two birdie fours.

“I still felt I could catch Brett with three holes to go but that putt won it for me,” said Molinari after joining brother Francesco, an automatic selection, in the 12-man Ryder Cup team.

Edoardo’s victory was his second in the country this season, following his Scottish Open triumph in July.

“I’m really proud to make the team and can’t wait to play at Celtic Manor in October,” he said.

“I knew if I won the tournament I could almost force Monty to give me a pick. That’s, luckily, what I did.

The 29-year-old Edoardo and 27-year-old Francesco slugged it out in strong winds at Gleneagles but it was the older brother who won the first prize of $360,000.

Francesco (75) had to settle for a share of third place, three strokes adrift of Edoardo, with Briton Jamie Donaldson and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Jimenez shared the lead until double-bogeying the short 17th where he ran up an extra stroke by failing to tap in while trying to avoid playing partner Peter Hedblom’s line.

The 46-year-old Spaniard missed his nephew’s wedding to fight for his Ryder Cup place here this week and will become the oldest European player to feature in the team competition.

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