Matt Wallace made an impressive case for a Ryder Cup wild card with a third win in his last 15 starts, a victory completed in dramatic fashion in front of captain Thomas Bjorn in the final qualifying event.
Wallace birdied five of his last six holes to finish 19 under par and get into an all-English four-man play-off with Lee Westwood, Steven Brown and Jonathan Thomson at the Made in Denmark event at Bjorn’s home course in Silkeborg.
The quartet returned to the 18th for the first extra hole and Brown piled the pressure on his opponents with an approach to three feet, but Wallace hit his to seven feet and both made birdie, while Westwood and Thomson were eliminated with pars.
Wallace and Brown then headed back to the par-four 18th and Wallace produced an even better approach to set up a winning birdie from four feet as Bjorn looked on.
With the captain looking on... pic.twitter.com/olUZugV3kz— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 2, 2018
Bjorn’s fellow Dane Thorbjorn Olesen had earlier secured the final automatic place on the team to face the United States at Le Golf National at the end of the month when Matt Fitzpatrick was unable to claim the victory he needed.
Fitzpatrick could only finish in a tie for seventh despite back-to-back rounds of 66 over the weekend and joins the likes of Wallace, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Rafa Cabrera Bello in anxiously waiting to see Bjorn’s four wild card selections on Wednesday.
Asked if his win had given Bjorn a selection headache, Wallace said: “I’ve given myself one! That play-off was pretty mental, four-man, to keep the 100 per cent record going as well from the one in India (where he beat Andrew Johnston) is really nice.
Cannot put into words how happy I am right now! It’s always been my dream to be a Ryder Cup Player, but it’s going to be even more special with my great friend @ThomasBjornGolf as captain! Bring it on 🇪🇺🇩🇰 pic.twitter.com/p8L3Pxz6ql— Thorbjørn Olesen (@Thorbjornolesen) September 2, 2018
“To do it in the style I’ve done it, I’ve birdied the last five holes including the two play-off holes, is pretty special. That just shows who I am right there, my determination, my grit and that’s what I’m all about.”
Olesen, who surged into Ryder Cup contention with a victory and four other top 10s in his last nine events before this week, said: “It’s been an incredible summer, a lot of pressure but I’ve been playing well and it’s been a lot of fun.
“I’ve watched the Ryder Cup since I was six or seven years old and it looks special. Two years ago I got a bit of the experience watching it all from Thomas’ buggy and I think that will help me a little bit.
“It’s going to be a great team and hopefully we can get the trophy back to Europe.”
Most European Tour wins since the start of 2017:— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 2, 2018
Impressive stuff @MattJSWallace pic.twitter.com/dzYamBP0k8
Olesen joins fellow rookies Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren in the side alongside Open champion Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy.
“There’s a few newcomers in there but strong names and people that I have a lot of trust in,” Bjorn told Sky Sports. “It was obviously nice to see Thorbjorn making the team, it’s been a tough few weeks for him but I think he deserves his place.
“I have a lot of belief in these guys. They’ve won big golf tournaments so you don’t feel like they are rookies, but Ryder Cup is different. We all feel it and get those juices flowing and it is a different tournament to play in.
“I’m pretty set on two or three names and then we’ve still got a bit of discussion to do and a bit of golf to watch from America over the next few days and then we’ll see.
“I’m pretty much there in my head in how I see this team being and how I want to try and mix and match everyone. But there’s still one little doubt in my head.”