Scotland’s Marc Warren ruled himself out of the reckoning for a Ryder Cup wild card despite claiming his first European Tour title for seven years at the inaugural Made in Denmark event on Sunday.
Warren began the day tied for the lead with Wales’ Bradley Dredge, but carded a closing 68 in front of massive crowds at Himmerland Golf Resort to win by two shots on nine under par.
Dredge, who had been four shots clear at the halfway stage, claimed second place after a round of 70, with England’s Phillip Archer three shots further back in third and home favourite Thomas Bjorn joint fourth with English pair Oliver Fisher and Eddie Pepperell.
Warren, who picked up a cheque for €250,000, moved to 20th on the Race to Dubai and 23rd in the European Ryder Cup points list, but is not expecting a call from captain Paul McGinley, despite having won on the Centenary Course at Gleneagles which hosts the biennial event at the end of September.
“That’s not really in my thinking,” said Warren. “I think that ship has sailed. I’ve left it a little bit too late. But I’ve been absolutely delighted with the summer I’ve had and I’m sure the team will be strong enough to get the job done without me.”
One player who can look forward to Gleneagles is Bjorn, who feels he has done enough to qualify with just two events remaining.
“I think I am there,” Bjorn said. “I’m definitely taking next week off and will speak to Paul [McGinley] tonight or tomorrow and see what his thinking is.
“I’ll take a good close look at the [points] list tomorrow but at the moment I feel like I need a couple of weeks off and I feel I am pretty much there.”
Warren had suffered a number of near misses since the second of his Tour wins in the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2007, most notably squandering a three-shot lead with four holes to play in the Scottish Open in 2012.
But the 33-year-old kept his composure despite a sustained challenge from Dredge, who got within three shots of his playing partner on three occasions on the back nine.
“It feels incredible,” Warren said. “I felt the last couple of years I’ve been close to winning a couple of times but for whatever reason it hasn’t quite happened for me, whether I’ve made mistakes or someone else has played really well. This summer I felt more confident than I’ve ever done. I felt great from the start today and felt I could be aggressive. I continued in that fashion all day and went at the flags. I was staying patient and not getting aggressive with the putter. Looking back at the Scottish Open a couple of years ago I was a bit aggressive, so I’ve learned. I just tried to keep the confidence going and tell myself to commit to the shot and trust my swing, which I did right until the last hole.”
Warren, who credits his recent good form to a new Callaway driver, made the ideal start with birdies on the third and fourth and added another from tap-in distance on the eighth to enjoy a four-shot lead.
However, he then dropped his first shot of the day after a wayward approach to the ninth and the gap was down to two when Dredge, whose last Tour win came in Switzerland in 2006, birdied the 11th.
Fresh from finishing 15th in the US PGA Championship last week, Warren responded immediately with a birdie from six feet on the 12th, but Dredge reduced the gap again with a birdie from four feet on the 13th and looked in prime position to get closer still on the next.
However, Warren holed from 50 feet across the green for an unlikely birdie – and looked somewhat embarrassed as the ball just toppled in the left side of the hole – and Dredge did well to hole from ten feet to remain two behind.
The 41-year-old then crucially failed to get up and down from a bunker on the 16th and although a birdie on the 17th got him within two again, he found an awkward lie on the edge of a fairway bunker on the last and was unable to apply any more pressure.
“It’s mixed feelings I suppose,” said Dredge, who recorded his first top-three finish since 2010 after being hampered by illness and injury in recent seasons.
“If someone had said they’d give me second at the start of the week it’s a great result, considering I haven’t had a chance to win a tournament for a long time. But it was a chance to win a tournament.
“Marc played really well today and I just wasn’t playing quite well enough but it would have been nice to have pushed him a little bit harder coming down the last few holes.”