Omega European Masters Golf 2013: Thomas Bjorn a Must for Ryder Cup

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor ISeptember 9, 2013

CRANS, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 08:  Thomas Bjorn of Denmark tee's off at the 4th during the final round of the Omega European Masters at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club  on September 8, 2013 in Crans, Switzerland.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Danish golfer Thomas Bjorn recorded a fine final-round score of 65 at the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre on Sunday to secure his first tour win since 2011, defeating Scotland's Craig Lee on the first playoff hole.

Bjorn, 42, last won on the tour at the same event in 2011, per BBC Sport, and used every ounce of his experience to play himself into contention once more this time around.

The win catapults the Dane to the top of the Ryder Cup qualification leaderboard, per CNN, with the period in which performance is monitored ahead of next year's event at Gleneagles having begun two weeks ago.

Bjorn's record at Gleneagles is impressive. Since 2006, he has played the Johnnie Walker Championship six times at the course, finishing in the top 10 on three occasions, including a title win in 2011, per the European Tour website.

Even if he should miss out on automatic qualification for a place at the tournament, his past record will surely place Bjorn high in the thinking of Paul McGinley when it comes to deciding his three captain's picks for the event.

The Dane, though, will need to prove that his victory this weekend is no one-off. Bjorn's form has been hit-and-miss in 2013, with a runner-up spot at the BMW International Open tempered by two missed cuts last month—including at Gleneagles.

Bjorn has notably been overlooked for the Ryder Cup captain's picks in the past, prompting a famous outburst against Ian Woosnam in 2006, per Reuters via ESPN. He will hope for better luck this time around, but will need to make a convincing case over the next 12 months.

Per BBC Sport, Bjorn insists he is not yet thinking about next year's event. "That's a long way ahead," he said post-round. "I would love to play one more but time will tell."

Now back in the top 50 of the world rankings, he may well be playing himself into contention.

Golf pundit Wayne Riley was quick to support Bjorn's Ryder Cup hopes on Sunday, with quotes supplied by

Thomas is brilliant with a wedge and has this amazing talent to use the grooves on the ball and spin it; he has wonderful feel, gets on with things quickly and plays golf at the pace that golf should be played at.

If his short game is on fire like that he could be around [at Gleneagles] and he will be a great guy to have in the locker room because he is such an inspirational player having played in Ryder Cups before.

Given his considerable experience and positive record at Gleneagles, Bjorn would appear a perfect choice for inclusion on the European team—even more so if he can reach anywhere near previous levels over the coming 12 months.

As part of two winning Ryder Cup sides, he has shown his ability under pressure to garner a 58 percent point return from his six rounds. He has also, on three occasions, been a vice-captain of European teams that have emerged victorious, per the tournament's official website.

All these factors weigh heavily in his favour. Now, he has a high-profile win under his belt once more, so momentum will begin to increase for his inclusion.

If he can build on his success by putting in a good showing at any of the pre-Ryder Cup majors, his selection should be a near-certainty for McGinley's 12-man team.