Matt Wallace triumphed at the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the Made in Denmark and stake his claim to a Ryder Cup wildcard pick.
Matt Wallace wins Made in Denmark
Matt Wallace came through an all-English four-man playoff against Steven Brown, Lee Westwood and Jonathan Thomson to win the Made in Denmark at Silkeborg Ry GC in Aarhus. He has made a strong case for his Ryder Cup selection with Thomas Bjorn set to announce his wildcard picks on Wednesday.
Wallace showed tremendous grit to birdie the 18th three times on Sunday to claim his third European Tour title of the season and send a clear message to onlooking Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn.
Wallace was first to post a clubhouse total of 269 at Silkeborg Ry GC (19-under-par.) He produced a superb finish, with five birdies in his last six holes. He finished with three straight birdies to come home in 31 and set a target nobody would get past.
Jonathan “Jigger” Thomson was the first man with a chance to reach 20-under on the final green, but his birdie effort narrowly missed. Thomson started the week outside the top-200 on the Race to Dubai standings.
The final group of Lee Westwood and Steven Brown also came to the home hole with a chance to win outright. Brown missed from long range to finish 19-under, then Westwood left his birdie putt short and that meant a four-man playoff.
The four Englishmen retuned to the 18th to settle the tournament via extra holes. Westwood teed off first and found the light rough on the left side. Thomson, the tallest player ever on the European Tour at 6 foot 9 inches, then ripped one down the left side of the fairway. Matt Wallace, already a two-time winner on the 2018 European Tour, smacked one up the fairway before Brown played into the left rough.
Brown, ranked 136th on the Race to Dubai coming into the event fired in first; a tremendous second shot to within just a few feet of the cup. That meant the others had to attack the flag. Westwood played a solid shot to within 20 feet then Thomson flew the green before Wallace, from the perfect position in the fairway, played a great shot in; his ball finishing just outside Brown’s.
Thomson missed with his chip from behind the green, Westwood’s putt snuck past the right edge leaving Wallace and Brown with short birdie efforts.
Wallace, winner of the Indian Open and the BMW International Open earlier this year, calmly rolled his putt home and Brown followed him in to keep his hopes alive.
With Westwood and Thomson eliminated, Wallace and Brown returned to the 18th tee.
Wallace, looking to impress Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, knocked another long drive away and then Brown, who had put himself in contention with a brilliant third round of 63, hit a controlled fade into the fairway.
Brown’s approach came up a touch short and then Wallace fired another brilliant wedge in to within five feet of the cup. When Brown’s putt just missed, Wallace was able to roll his home to secure a fourth European Tour title.
“To win in the way I did was pretty special,” he said. “That shows my determination and grit, that’s what I’m all about. I don’t shy away from the big occasion. To get a pick for the Ryder Cup would mean everything.”
Lee Westwood, without a win since 2014, was in control of the event through 11 holes of the final round, leading by a couple of shots. Looking for a 24th European Tour win, he had a chance to extend his advantage on the 12th but missed a short putt for birdie. The 45-year-old then missed for par on the 13th and that led to a string of weak putts on the run for home. He was unable to make birdie putts on the 17th and 18th greens.
The other big story of the week was the final race to Ryder Cup qualification. Thorbjorn Olesen secured the final automatic qualifying spot for Thomas Bjorn’s European team. The Dane finished the week in a tie for 20th place but with Eddie Pepperell, Thomas Pieters and Matt Fitzpatrick unable to do enough to overtake him on the points list, the eighth spot went to Olesen.
Thomas Bjorn will announce his four Ryder Cup wildcard picks on Wednesday.
Made in Denmark
Silkeborg Ry GC, Aarhus, Denmark
30 August – 2 September
Purse: €1,500,000 Par: 72
1 Matt Wallace (Eng) 68 68 66 67 269
T2 Jonathan Thomson (Eng) 64 69 68 68 269
T2 Lee Westwood (Eng) 68 65 67 69 269
T2 Steven Brown (Eng) 70 68 63 68 269
5 Erik Van Rooyen (RSA) 67 70 68 65 270
6 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 66 71 68 66 271
T7 Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng) 72 68 66 66 272
T7 Thomas Detry (Bel) 67 68 66 71 272
9 Ashley Chesters (Eng) 69 70 68 66 273
T10 Sam Horsfield (Eng) 67 67 71 69 274
T10 Adrian Otaegui (Esp) 70 67 68 69 274
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage