Miguel Angel Jimenez’s joy at seeing Martin Kaymer win the United States PGA title on Sunday was not only because he likes the young German - Kaymer’s play-off victory in Wisconsin also had the spin-off effect of lifting Jimenez from ninth to eighth in the Ryder Cup race, even though he had missed the cut.
Kaymer is now going to be one of the four qualifiers for Colin Montgomerie’s team off a world points list and his name is therefore removed from the list of those seeking one of the other five automatic spots based on their European Tour earnings.
That has taken some of the pressure off the 46-year-old Spaniard as he tries to clinch a fourth cap at the Czech Open starting tomorrow on the Prosper course in Celadna that he co-designed.
Jimenez is not planning to play next week’s race-ending Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles and knows the importance of trying to hold off the challenge this week of main Cup challengers Ross McGowan, Peter Hanson and Simon Dyson.
They could all overtake him by claiming the first prize of more than £250,000 (€302,000) - and they are all heading for Scotland afterwards.
So Jimenez is not certain of his spot yet despite winning the Dubai Desert Classic and French Open this season, both in play-offs.
He defeated Lee Westwood in the Middle East before getting the better of compatriot Alejandro Canizares and Italian Francesco Molinari in Paris.
“It is a very important week for me as I am on the borderline of the Ryder Cup and need to get some points,” Jimenez said. “It’s a big week for a lot of people but for me it is my last chance to make the team.”
He missed the cut by three shots at Whistling Straits and McGowan, Dyson and Hanson all narrowed the gap on him by playing all four rounds.
Dyson, 16th in the cup race, did best with a joint 12th-placed finish in the final major of the year, but unable to fly home on Sunday night it was yesterday morning before he landed at Heathrow and hours later caught another flight to Prague – and then a train to Ostrava.
Swede Hanson suddenly came into the Cup picture by coming eighth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational two weeks ago – he was the leading European – and his climb to 15th on the points table led to him seeking a late sponsor invitation this week after he was originally not going to play.
McGowan is in 11th spot and needs “only” a fourth place finish either this week or next to leave Paul Casey needing a wild card like Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Luke Donald.
Battling wrist and then shoulder problems all summer, McGowan was on the point of pulling out of the Czech trip when he slumped to a closing 81 on Sunday.
He has not had a top four all year, but is going through the pain barrier - with the help of strapping and pain-killers – in a last-ditch bid to represent Europe at Celtic Manor in October.