Meronk moves into Ryder Cup contention with Italian Open win

Adrian Meronk moved himself into pole position to earn an automatic spot in the European Ryder Cup team when winning the Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, venue for this autumn’s match against the USA.

The 29-year-old moved into fifth place in the European rankings with victory in Rome and is well on his way to becoming the first player from Poland to represent his country in the biennial matches.

Meronk fired rounds of 68, 68, 66 and 69 to finished on -13 and win by a single shot from Romain Langasque, with fellow Frenchman Julien Guerrier a further show back in third, .

Meronk, who holed the winning putt at the Hero Cup in January – a tournament designed to provide match play experience to potential Ryder Cup players – went toe to toe with Langasque on the back nine, while overnight leader Guerrier kept in touch with them in a thrilling finale.

The Pole edged ahead on 16 with his fifth birdie of the day and holed a par putt from the edge of the green on 17. Langasque’s challenge had appeared to have faltered with a bogey on 16, but he stunningly chipped in for a birdie on the penultimate hole to keep the pressure on. But Meronk would not falter as he birdied the closing hole to sign for a 69 and finish one shot clear of Langasque, with Guerrier a further two back.

Speaking after lifting the trophy, which came with a €500,000 first prize, Meronk said: “I didn’t play as well as previous days so I had to grind a little bit, but I’m proud of the way I handled myself today. I kept hitting good shots, and the putt for par on 17 and for birdie on 18 were very big. On 17 I left myself almost an impossible chip shot, so I just hit it is close as possible, which was five or six metres, so to make that putt gave me great momentum going into 18.

He added: “It was amazing to have my father here to watch me win on tour for the first time. I started golf because of him and it’s super special for him, so I am very happy that he was here with me today. Next time hopefully my mother will be here too!”

Looking forward to a potential Ryder Cup debut, Meronk added: “Making the team is definitely one of my big goals this year, and it would mean a lot to me, so I will keep pushing and keep doing what I can to get on the team. It was definitely on my mind coming here [Marco Simone] and performing well in front of Luke [Donald]. I think it might help, but there’s still a lot of time left. I still have to keep putting in good performances to make the team.”

The tournament also saw the return of Eddie Pepperell to the DP World Tour following a self-enforced three-month period away from the game. The Oxfordshire golfer, whose last tournament was the Singapore Classic in early February, missed four consecutive cuts at the start of the year, and has spent some time away from the tour working on his game on a new swing studio that he has had installed at his house. The lay-off seems to have worked, as he finished tied ninth – securing his first top-10 finish since last October’s Portugal Masters.