5 Things: Donaldson earns Ryder Cup spot with win

Jamie Donaldson captured the Czech Masters in Prague, winning his third European Tour title and also securing his spot on the European Ryder Cup team.

With most of Europe’s elite taking part in the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour, the stage was set for Europe’s B team to shine in Prague in the D+D Real Czech Masters. Despite the lack of quality on display, the tournament delivered some good story lines.

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1. LOCKED UP: Jamie Donaldson entered the Czech Masters with just one thing on his mind: play well and he was on his way to Gleneagles for his Ryder Cup debut. He did more than just play well.

Eighth on the European Ryder Cup points list before traveling to Prague, The Welshman needed a top-7 finish to guarantee a place on Paul McGinley’s team.

He went six places better. He took the €166,660 first-place check. Donaldson held off countryman Bradley Dredge to secure his third European Tour victory.

“This is big. It’s been an amazing week,” Donaldson said.

“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. This week I played really well. Winning is everything: wins shoot you up world rankings, Race To Dubai, all sorts. It’s massive.

“It’s so difficult to get into the team, the lads are playing so well. You know that you have to play well to secure your place and it did come down to the wire. But that’s how it is to get into the team. I played as well as I can play for 18 months, and then a couple of slow events and you rocket down the list, so it’s great to come here and play so well and do enough to get into the team.”

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2. UP NEXT? Stephen Gallacher can take heart from Donaldson’s victory. The Scot is pushing hard to make his first Ryder Cup team. He is just outside the automatic places, and needs a good performance in Italy this week to seal his place at Gleneagles. His play in Prague should give him heart.

Gallacher finished tied for seventh despite not playing brilliantly.

“The week went pretty well – bit disappointed with today, I didn’t really play that well,” said Gallacher, “but top 10 if you’re not firing is quite good.”

“My goal this week was to win it or try and finish as high up as I could – I was in contention in the second last group, if you then play well you can win, if you don’t and still finish top ten, then you’ve got it round well.”

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3. DREDGING UP THE PAST: Dredge entered the final round in the lead looking for his first win since 2006. The two-time European Tour winner came up two shots short, but posted his second consecutive runner-up following a second-place finish in Denmark a week earlier. He earned €111,110.

The Welshman, who played in the 1995 Walker Cup, lost his card in 2012 and had only played six European tour events before Prague. His consolation is that the €277,770 he’s earned in the last two weeks means the 40-year-old has earned a card for the 2015 season. He is now 61st on the European money list.

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4. SHOWING FORM: Former Augusta State player James Heath posted his first top 10 since 2012 with a joint ninth-place finish to earn €19,500. Heath, winner of the 2004 Lytham Trophy, entered the Czech Masters 164th on the European Tour money list. The Englishman moved to 152nd and needs a few more good performances if he is to attain his 2015 European Tour card.

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5. FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: Garrick Porteous matched Heath’s ninth-place finish to post his first top 10 since turning professional in April. The 2013 British Amateur Champion, who played college golf at the University of Tennessee, made one cut in his first eight starts as a pro, but has made the weekend in his last four events.

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