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Miguel Angel Jimenez claims third win of 2010

Miguel-Angel Jimenez chalked up his third Tour victory of the season when he claimed the European Masters title on Sunday.

The 46-year-old Spaniard held off his Ryder Cup team mate Edoardo Molinari to head the Italian by three shots with a closing four-under-par 67.

Jimenez, twice runner-up in an event he has played for 22 consecutive years, became the European Tour’s first three-times winner of the season.

It looked as though the Spanish veteran was strolling to his 18th tour title when he held a six-stroke advantage over Molinari after 11 holes.

But the determination that earned Molinari his Ryder Cup debut as one of Colin Montgomerie’s wildcards enabled the Italian to reduce that margin to just a stroke by the 15th.

There had been a two-shot swing in Molinari’s favour on the 14th and the 29-year-old Italian, also looking for a third win in 2010, hit a supreme approach to just less than three feet to eagle the long 15th.

A vital save on the short 16th, while Molinari bogeyed, took off the pressure on Jimenez, though, and when the pony-tailed Spaniard rolled in a curling 12ft birdie putt on the 17th, the $422,000 prize was his.

After several near-misses in the event, Jimenez said he was relieved to have broken his duck in the mountains.

“I was getting desperate,” Jimenez told reporters after extricating himself from the pool at the 18th into which he had been bustled by champagne-showering supporters.

“It’s not just the two second places but the amount of times I’ve been in the top 10 over the years,” he said. “This means a lot and will mean a lot to my friends here.

“Molinari pushed me and my good recovery at the 16th with a great chip was the key to the win.”

Molinari went off for a three-week break knowing he is in the sort of form that should give him confidence for the Ryder Cup.

His teenage compatriot Matteo Manassero secured his tour card for 2011 with a final round 68 to take third place, five behind Jimenez.

“Making my card was my goal this year and now I’m here,” said the 17-year-old 2009 British Amateur champion who only turned pro in May. “And it’s great to have made it with a good performance.”

Korean 19-year-old Noh Seung-yul (67) increased his lead on the Asian Tour in the co-sanctioned event by finishing fourth on 13 under.

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