England’s Todd Clements grabbed hold of his maiden DP World Tour title in Prague on Sunday, while Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre tightened his grip on the final automatic place for the Ryder Cup.
The Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort witnessed so much final-day drama with Clements holding off the challenge of compatriot Matt Wallace and, in the race within the race, MacIntyre going further clear in the battle to make the biennial match in Rome next month.
Luke Donald, the Europe captain, could not fail to be impressed with the gumption of MacIntyre, 27, to shoot a second successive 66 to move up to fourth. His brilliant weekend ensured that only five players — Yannik Paul, Adrian Meronk, Victor Perez, Rasmus Hojgaard and Adrian Otaegui — can overhaul MacIntyre at the last event in the qualifying event, European Masters in Switzerland. And that quintet knows that MacIntyre could still deny them, however they perform.
“That round was massive,” MacIntyre said. “I actually told Greg [Milne, his caddie) on the first tee, ‘this is as nervous as I’ve been for a long time’. There’s just so much riding on it – it would be a dream to play in the Ryder Cup. I know I’m in a great position. I know I have a target on my back, but I just love a fight and that’s what I’ve got to do just now.”
“This week, I didn’t play great the first three days, but today I was in full control of the golf ball. I didn’t get off to a great start today, making too many pars early on, but Greg kept saying to me, ‘look, every hole here is a birdie chance’ if we get it off the tee well and today I felt I drove it well apart.
“There were so many chances and I am rolling the putter absolutely perfect just now and that’s what you need to do when you are trying to keep ahead.”
MacIntyre’s birdie on the 18th allowed him to beat both Paul and Perez by one stroke. He acknowledged that has given him a huge psychological lift before travelling to Crans-sur-Sierre.
There was plenty of food for thought with Dane Nicolai Hojgaard finishing in third as he tries to earn one of the six wildcards that will be named next Monday. Alongside MacIntyre was Ludvig Aberg, in just his eighth event as a pro, and Donald has previously stated that he is considering the prodigious Swede for a pick. And Wallace will also be hopeful that after winning earlier in the season on the PGA Tour, that he has thrust his name into the discussion. However, what Wallace would have given to win his first DP World Tour title in five years.
Clements was just too good and too inspired, the rookie firing a 63 to reach 22-under to inch out Wallace by a shot. Starting the day three off the lead shared by Wallace and Sami Valimaki, the world No 394 reeled off nine birdies. Wallace needed to birdie the last from eight feet to force a play-off but saw his putt slip past the edge of the hole.
“Given the circumstances that’s got to be the best round of my life,” Clements said. “I’m over the moon. I’ve dreamt about winning for a long time and with my birthday coming up on Tuesday I couldn’t be happier.
“Three shots to make up is a tough ask but I knew I was playing well enough to get in amongst it. I feel like I did my job on every shot and obviously the luck was with me today because I holed a few long ones.”
Clements admitted he was inspired by Dan Brown winning his maiden title in Northern Ireland last week. “Dan and I grew up playing golf together, he’s a good friend. His success last Sunday gave me the belief that I can do it as well. I know I can compete at this level. I’ve always believed it deep down and, to show it today, makes me very proud of myself.”