Donaldson earns Czech Masters title, spot in Ryder Cup
Prague, Czech Republic (SportsNetwork.com) - Jamie Donaldson finished off his week with a 4-under 68 on Sunday to win the Czech Masters by two shots and secure his spot on the European Ryder Cup team.
Donaldson, who came into the week holding the next-to-last spot on the world points list, ended at 14-under-par 274 for his third career victory. Donaldson last won at the 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
"This is big -- it's been an amazing week," said Donaldson. "I didn't get here until late. I needed to play well either this week or next week, or both, to guarantee my place in the Ryder Cup team so there was a lot on the line and this week I played really well, so that's great."
Third-round leader Bradley Dredge could not quite go low enough on the final day, finishing in sole possession of second place at 12-under 276 following a final-round 72. Dredge ended runner-up for the second straight week after finishing behind Marc Warren at the Made in Denmark.
Soren Kjeldsen, who also held the outright lead at one point on Sunday, dropped too many shots late and he finished tied for third at minus-11 after a final-round 71. He was joined there by Merrick Bremner (69) at Albatross Golf Resort.
Eddie Pepperell (67) and Tommy Fleetwood (70) tied for a distant fifth at 8- under 280, while Sam Walker (71) and Stephen Gallacher (73) were one shot behind them at minus-7.
Donaldson, now a member of Paul McGinley's team at the Ryder Cup in Scotland at the end of September, began the day two shots behind the leader Dredge. Donaldson stormed out of the gate with three straight birdies to take a two shot lead after Dredge bogeyed the par-3 third.
"I had a great first three holes and felt very relaxed," Donaldson said. "I just had to slow things down, take my time and allow myself to play good shots all the time, as opposed to some of the time. And that went my way and worked well and enabled me to win."
Kjeldsen, who entered the day tied for second with Donaldson, made back-to- back birdies at two and three to get to minus-12. Donaldson tripped to his first bogey on four to drop into a tie atop the leaderboard with Kjeldsen.
Kjeldsen, playing in the final group with Donaldson and Dredge, took his first outright lead with a birdie on five to get to 13-under, one shot ahead of Donaldson and two ahead of Dredge.
Donaldson briefly pulled even with Kjeldsen following a birdie on six, but another gain for Kjeldsen on seven gave him the lead once again.
Kjeldsen gave that shot back right away, however, with a 3-putt bogey at the par-4 eighth to fall back into a tie with Donaldson as Dredge still sat two back at minus-11.
Things only got worse for Kjeldsen as he bogeyed his second straight hole at nine after another 3-putt, giving Donaldson the lead. A long birdie effort dropped for Donaldson on 10 to move him two clear of Kjeldsen.
Kjeldsen's third bogey in four holes came at the 11th, pulling him even with Dredge and putting Donaldson up by three at 14-under. The trio of Donaldson, Kjeldsen and Dredge all birdied the par-5 12th and Donaldson maintained his 3- shot lead.
With a slight rain beginning to fall, Dredge broke away from Kjeldsen with a big chip-in birdie off the back of the 14th green, getting him to 13-under and two shots back of the leader Donaldson.
While Donaldson and Dredge each parred 15 and 16, Kjeldsen tripped to his fourth bogey on 16 and he never threatened the lead again.
With two holes to play and Donaldson still leading by two, Dredge's tee shot on 17 found water and he had to settle for a bogey. Donaldson matched Dredge's bogey after missing a short par putt, dropping Donaldson to minus-14.
It did not matter in the end, however, as Donaldson closed with a par at the last to claim his third career European Tour title.
"Winning is everything," Donaldson stated. "Wins shoot you up world rankings, Race To Dubai, all sorts. It's massive -- those three last holes coming in there were really tough with the wind blowing, so I'm just really happy to seal it."
While Dredge was pleased with another runner-up finish, he knew the opportunity was there to claim his third win on tour.
"Mixed feelings because again there was the chance to win there," Dredge said. "I had a 2-shot lead going into the last round. Both the guys (Donaldson and Kjeldsen) got off to great starts today and I played nicely, but just didn't putt as well today. I was trying to keep the pressure on and try to force the other guys into mistakes, but to be fair to Jamie he played great and I'm pleased he's secured his place in the Ryder Cup."
NOTES: Donaldson needed a top-7 finish in order to secure his spot on the Ryder Cup team ... This is the third straight season on tour that Donaldson has picked up a win ... Donaldson earned 166,660 euros with this victory ... Scott Jamieson, who finished tied for ninth at 6-under 282, fired a course- record 64 in his final round Sunday ... Next week, the European Tour heads to the Italian Open, where players will get one more chance to earn points toward the Ryder Cup. Julien Quesne took home the title last year.