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Wild card Donald rolls to 5-stroke win

CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland -- Britain's
Luke Donald repaid Bernhard Langer's faith in him by winning the
European Masters on Sunday, one week after the European Ryder
Cup captain handed him a wild-card spot.

Donald repeated the feat of U.S. wild card Stewart Cink by
winning his first time out after being given a captain's pick, as
the 26-year-old Englishman claimed his second European Tour
title in five weeks.

A closing 5-under-par 66 for a 19-under 265 left Donald
five strokes in front of Miguel Angel Jimenez and six shots
ahead of fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, veteran Argentine
Eduardo Romero and Briton Robert Coles.

It gave Europe's three Ryder Cup players in Switzerland a
1-2-3 finish.

The trio had been out in front all week, providing more
cheer for Langer with the match against the U.S. at Oakland
Hills only 12 days away.

Jimenez and Garcia had swapped places on top of the
leaderboard over the first three rounds but Donald, a stroke
behind leader Jimenez overnight, showed his determination to
outdo the Spaniards with an eagle at the first.

Garcia, also a stroke adrift of Jimenez overnight, caught
Donald after the fifth.

But a double bogey on the long 14th, when he hit his second
shot out of bounds, took Garcia out of contention, and with
Jimenez stalling, Donald stepped in for the $320,000 first
prize.

It was the U.S. Tour-based Briton's second victory in only
his 14th professional European Tour event, as he followed up his
Scandinavian Masters success.

He has played most of his golf in America since switching
from the amateur ranks in 2001.


"I'm glad I made the decision to come over here and play and rejoin the European tour, and everything has worked out just perfectly," said Donald, a former NCAA champion at Northwestern. "It was a fun week ... especially for me. I made a lot of putts."

Since Langer persuaded Donald in July to fulfill his
mandatory 11 European events, the British youngster has not
looked back, picking up more than $850,000 in prize money from just
six European money-list events.

With a formidable match-play record in the Walker Cup of
seven wins out of eight, Donald looks primed for his Ryder Cup
debut.

"I knew I had the ability to win two tournaments, but having
the ability and doing it are two different things," he said.

"I would think I have justified my pick [by Langer]. It
was great all three of us in the Ryder Cup playing the way we
did, and I think this is a strong message to send to the U.S.
guys. It's great for European morale."

Jimenez, leader after the first and third rounds, had to accept
second-best this time after completing his fourth win of the
year last week. He is still targeting six wins in this campaign
and moves up a place to third on Europe's money list.

"I didn't play as good as the first two days, but this is
still a good boost for the Ryder Cup," Jimenez said.

Garcia, having played most of his season in America, had his
best European finish of the year, then praised Donald.

"You have to give all the credit in the world to Luke, and
even if he'd not won, he deserves to be on the [Ryder Cup] team.
It was always a good choice."

Romero, 50, proved he does not yet need to move to seniors golf; the two-time winner at Crans-sur-Sierre again excelled.

Defending champion Ernie Els was unhappy as he closed with a
double bogey to finish eight strokes adrift of Donald.

"It wasn't a nice day -- all rush then wait," said the South
African, who is ranked No. 3 in the world. "I didn't find any rhythm."

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.