Miguel Angel Jiménez gave himself the perfect fillip for his appearance in The 35th Ryder Cup Matches in three weeks time, when he claimed victory in the BMW International Open at Golfclub München Nord-Eichenried, his fourth victory of an outstanding season on The European Tour.
On a day where the tension and excitement surrounding the tournament itself and the various permutations in the Ryder Cup qualification scenario build to an almost unbearable height at times, the Spaniard showed what an asset he will be to Bernhard Langer with a superb closing 66 for a 21 under par total of 267 and a two shot victory over Frenchman Thomas Levet.
While the two main protagonists in the tournament had reason to celebrate, there was also considerable joy for David Howell, Paul McGinley and Ian Poulter, who did enough in the nerve-jangling tension to claim the precious three remaining automatic places in the Ryder Cup Team following the end of the European Points List.
It was a day of high drama all round but the tournament honours belonged to Jiménez who followed up his earlier season victories in the Johnnie Walker Classic, the Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos and the BMW Asian Open with another fine success which took him to fourth on the Volvo Order of Merit with €1,381,371 (£934,716).
“Of course the only pressure I had today was the pressure of trying to win the tournament which was great for me,” said the Spaniard. “The guys around me were fighting for the Ryder Cup spots which was hard for them but it was still a big win for me because this is a very big week with a big field.”
Level par through three holes after following a birdie at the first with a bogey at the third, Jiménez knew he had to start moving forward if he had a chance of the first prize of €300,000 (£202,997) and he did just that in a blistering spell around the turn.
From the fourth to the 14th hole, Jiménez rattled in eight birdies in total which more than offset bogeys at the eighth and tenth. It was a run which gave him a suitable cushion over Levet, enabling him to par the last four holes and still win by two shots.
Playing with Jiménez, Levet, who birdied the 11th and 14th, had chances to close the gap in the final stages but like his playing partner, could not conjure up a birdie over the closing four holes.
Although not tasting victory, the spoils were almost as sweet for Howell, McGinley and Poulter, who joined Paul Casey and Levet as the five automatic qualifiers from the Ryder Cup European Points List.
It was an afternoon of tremendous tension for the trio along with Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson who eventually found himself in the unfortunate position of finishing just one place outside the automatic qualification, after finishing tied sixth in the tournament, just as he had done two weeks ago in the Ryder Cup World Points List.
While feeling for their fellow competitor, Howell, McGinley and Poulter shared the delight of making the team for Oakland Hills.
“I finished in 11th place three years ago in this very event so I know how Freddie is feeling but this was my year and I would have hated, really hated to have missed out again,” said Poulter, who recovered magnificently from a double bogey seven at the sixth and a quadruple bogey eight at the tenth to finish the last eight holes in six under par.
Included in that were two eagles, including at the final hole, and the flamboyant Englishman did enough, finishing in a tie for 25th place on ten under par 278 to claim the tenth and final place.
“Obviously I am delighted but to be honest at the moment I feel exhausted and drained from the efforts of the day. I couldn’t really take it all in until I watched the Ryder Cup Press Conference on television – then it began to sink in.”
Another Ryder Cup debutant at Oakland Hills will be fellow Englishman Howell, who clinched his place with a final round 69 for an 11 under par total of 277 and a share of 22nd place.
“It is fantastic,” said Howell. “I stayed as calm as I could today and did everything right. I really played my heart out and tried to stay patient and I got my reward. I delighted to be going to Detroit but I always said I wanted to play on a winning Ryder Cup Team, not just play in the Ryder Cup – that’s the next step.”
Sharing the delight was McGinley, who of course knows exactly what it takes to win The Ryder Cup, having holed the putt which did just that at The De Vere Belfry two years ago.
“I'm obviously very pleased. This is something I really wanted to make. Am I proud of myself? Yeah, of course I'm proud of myself,” said the Irishman. “It's been a roller coaster ride the last six weeks. I had the leash between my teeth like a dog, I didn't want to let it go and fortunately I just held on to it long enough.”