Happy hammer Horschel wins BMW PGA Championship and Ryder Cup automatic qualifiers confirmed

The American claimed a treasured victory on the West Course at Wentworth and the nine of the European Ryder Cup team qualified for Padraig Harrington’s team.

In recent times Wentworth really has been a field of dreams for golfers.

For the most part they have been Englishmen completing the journey from youngster watching outside the ropes to champion inside them.

But the Italians Matteo Manasssero and Francesco Molinari have also lifted the BMW PGA Championship trophy there, motivated by memories of their compatriot Costantino Rocca winning in 1996.

What we never expected was that an American would be added to their number.

But when Billy Horschel's final round 65 allowed him to complete victory with a 19-under total of 269 there was no doubt that his was an on-trend performance.

Because conventional wisdom has it that Stateside golfers are exactly that: they don't cross the Atlantic for anything other than the annual quest for the Claret Jug (some have even been known to dodge that journey) or an extremely lucrative incentive.

Not Horschel.

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The 34-year-old Florida man is not only a dedicated West Ham United fan, he also revealed when making his Wentworth debut two years ago that history had fuelled his participation.

"This event has always had a soft spot in my heart," he said. "I remember Colin Montgomerie winning it three years in a row and many memorable shots and memorable holes. Alex Noren. Matteo Manassero. There's a lot of memories and it's even better in person than it was on TV."

He finished fourth at the first time of asking and this year he improved on that, emerging triumphant on a day of low scoring at the European Tour's flagship event.

Halfway leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat had utilised Moving Day to head in the wrong direction, but he woke in a very different mood on Sunday, thrashing five front nine birdies, then adding another two and an eagle after the turn.

However his second shot at the par-5 17th found a bush, he dropped a shot and couldn't break par at the last.

His 64 set a clubhouse target of 18-under that Jamie Donaldson equalled before Horschel - who didn't drop a shot on the back nine all week and played it in 17-under - went one better with a birdie-4 at the last.

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Behind him England Laurie Canter was making an exceptional championship debut. A birdie at the par-5 12th got him to 18-under, but he got himself stuck on that mark.

Just short of the green in two at the 17th, he thinned his first chip to waste the chance to join Horschel on 19-under. Shortly after, his birdie putt at the last narrowly missed the hole to confirmed a three-way share of third with Christiaan Bezuidenhout alone in fifth on 17-under.

On a day when the focus of many was on the European Ryder Cup Qualification leaderboard it somehow fitting that a man spurned by the American captain should emerge triumphant.

"It sucks not making the team and not getting a call from Steve Stricker to let me know I hadn't gave me a bit of added motivation," he said.

"The crowds are unbelievable and they have supported me so well. To win this event means a lot. To me it rolls with THE PLAYERS Championship.

"Making par at number one was huge, I needed a big putt there then I played great. Making a birdie at 15 was also huge. I knew I had chances to come after that and it turns out I only needed to take one of them."

Horschel then celebrated with West Ham's Mark Noble and Declan Rice before striking a hammer pose as he collected the trophy.

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PlanetSport tipped Horschel this week here.

European Ryder Cup Qualifiers

Elsewhere, there was good news for Lee WestwoodMatthew Fitzpatrick and Bernd Wiesberger, whose places on Padraig Harrington's Ryder Cup team were confirmed.

They join Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and Paul Casey.

It leaves the captain with something of a headache, however.

He must now pick three from a perceived four made up of the veterans Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter plus Shane Lowry.

None of them have made an unarguable case regarding their form, Lowry would be a rookie, and, while the veterans bring experience, they also have records that have been declining from their very best.

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Those wildcards will be announced this evening and reported here.

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