Jimenez keeps nerve to win in France
Golf:Rory McIlroy gave it his all in a final round 66 but he ultimately came up just short to miss out on a three-way play-off from which Miguel Angel Jimenez emerged victorious to be crowned the new French Open champion.
Jimenez (67), fellow Spaniard Alejandro Canizares (68) and Italy's Francesco Molinari (67) were tied at the top on 11 under 273 and required sudden-death to decide the outcome.
The trio returned to the 18th and the Canizares who was first to fall after his drive found the water hazard and eventually made a double bogey six.
Molinari found a fairway bunker, played out then found another greenside buker and could only play out to 15 feet. He holed for a bogey five and the stage was set for the veteran Jimenez. Though he too missed the green with his approach he played a fine chip before closing out the deal with battling 15 foot par putt.
The win was Jimenez's 17th tour win of an 18-year career and the €500,000 winner's cheque will be good enough to return to the world's top 35, while he also comes into Ryder Cup reckoning at Celtic Manor in October.
“It feel great to be back to winning ways,” said Jimenez, who had to overcome nerves after finding water with his approach at the same hole in regulation.
“I just had to keep my composure, it was the same distance, I hit a seven iron, but pulled it slightly,” added the winner, who pitched up and sank the all-important putt.
“I just told myself to keep breathing, relax and walk slowly.”
At 46 Jimenez believes this will probably be his last chance of competing in the Ryder Cup and would like nothing more than make Colin Montgomerie’s team.
“I would love to make Monty’s team but we must take it week-to-week and see what happens,” added the bubbly Spaniard, who will no doubt light another celebratory cigar as he quickly departed for a flight back home to Malaga.
McIlroy's closing 66 moved him to outright fourth on 10 under and was good enough for a €150,000 payout.
The 21-year-old's usual aggressive style paid dividends as he lined up one birdie chance after another - he picked up seven in all. The other side of the balance sheet showed just two dropped shots at the second and 12th.
Three of his birdies came on the final six holes and another presented itself on the treacherous 18th. However he failed to convert from 12 feet and the chance of sudden-death was gone.
Michael Hoey matched McIlroy's 66 to get to six under where he was joined by Damien McGrane (72). Peter Lawrie carded 71 to remain on level par.