Billy Horschel became the second American, after Arnold Palmer, to win the BMW PGA Championship following a dramatic final round that saw Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton secure the final automatic qualifying places in Europe’s Ryder Cup team on Sunday.
Horschel span his approach shot at the par-5 18th back to within 2 feet of the cup, guaranteeing a closing birdie for a 7-under 65 and a 19-under 269 total in the European Tour’s flagship event at its headquarters at Wentworth.
Laurie Canter, a 170th-ranked Englishman, had a chance to force a playoff by making birdie at the last with a putt from 15 feet. It missed right and he signed for a 67, tying him second with Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) and Jamie Donaldson (66).
Horschel had to get over the disappointment of missing out on a captain’s pick for the US Ryder Cup team this week, and did so by winning his first regular event on the European Tour. That will go a long way toward clinching the season-long Race to Dubai which culminayes in the UAE at the DP World Tour Championship.
The race for spots on the European team for the Ryder Cup went to the final round of the last qualifying event, and was predictably frantic considering so many points were on offer at the tournament.
UAE regular and serial winner over here Westwood’s place was under threat the entire week but his round of 77 didn’t stop him from claiming the final spot on the world points list, meaning an 11th appearance in the Ryder Cup for the 48-year-old Englishman.
He was helped by Shane Lowry - a big qualifying rival - only shooting 71 to finish in a tie for 17th.
Lowry and Justin Rose, who shot 65 for a tie for sixth, were facing a nervous wait to be one of the three captain’s picks named by Padraig Harrington later on Sunday. Harrington said before the first round at Wentworth that Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter were in line to be two of the picks.
Wiesberger, who shot 72, will make his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits this month after qualifying via the European points list, along with Hatton. That bumped Rory McIlroy into the five qualifying spots on the world points list.
Jon Rahm, McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Paul Casey had already secured automatic spots in the team before the event.