Donald earns #1 at BMW PGA
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2011 BMW PGA Championship | Final Round | 30 May 2011
The huge crowds who flocked to see round four of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club in England were no doubt hoping the final day developed into a battle between the game’s two leading players and they were not about to be let down.
Luke Donald prevailed but not after a titanic battle with Lee Westwood, the latter of whom was not about to let his grip on his mantle as the world’s number one slip without a fight. Donald prevailed and in the process the heir apparent has claimed the crown but it was a day few would forget.
With the two players tied at 6 under at the completion of 72 holes, the event was forced into extra time, Donald set up the victory with a delightful pitch to a dangerous flag position at the par five 18th.
With Westwood forced to attack to match what appeared to be Donald’s almost assured birdie he pitched past the flag and then spun back into the water. The best he could do was a triple bogey seven, leaving Donald with three putts for the title.
He would need only one and the 33 year old had reached the pinnacle of the game after what could be described as one of the most amazing runs of consistency the game has seen in many a year. In now 14 of his last 15 starts anywhere Donald has been inside the top ten, seven of those either first, second or third.
Donald made a horror start on day four when he bogeyed the opening two holes and it was the 18 year old Italian Matteo Manssero who had the lead. Manassero double bogeyed the par four 3rd hole however and when Donald birdied the 4th he was back in front.
After an early bogey at the 3rd, Westwood began to move. Birdies at the 4th, 6th and 8th and he had the lead. He was not about to stop there either. Although Donald birdied the par three 10th, Westwood established a two shot lead when he birdied the 12th and 15th, the latter of which came after a brilliant approach to the demanding par four.
The par four 16th appears as one of the more straightforward of the holes at Wentworth but over many years it has often proved to be a sleeper and today it would play a huge role in determining the outcome of the event. Just a few minutes after Westwood had taken bogey, Donald hit a brilliant approach to one foot and he the pair was tied. Neither was able to birdie either of the closing par fives, Westwood missing a great chance from 6 feet at the last.
Donald had one last chance from 40 feet to claim the title in regulation but it fell short and they were on their way back to the 18th tee.
Donald was understandably elated at not only what he had achieved but what the moment represented in the history of the game. “Well, it feels great obviously, being the runner-up a few times in my career, a few times this year, and to obviously come through in these circumstances in one of the biggest tournaments in the world, going head-to-head with Lee, is pretty special.
“It doesn’t get much better. I’m not sure if there will ever be a case where No. 1 and No. 2 in the world are playing off for the tournament, but also a chance for the No. 1 ranking in the world.
But a unique history I think has been made, and glad to be a part of it.”
As to what was more significant winning the title or claiming the number one spot Donald replied; “I’ve always said, winning is always at the top of the list. It’s always the top of the goals. I’m not going to lie; being No. 1 feels fantastic. It’s a great honour, a great achievement. But you know, winning is what got me there – the big win back at the Match Play (Acccenture) and a big win here. It’s obviously been a great year so far, and just because I’m at No. 1 doesn’t mean that I’m done now. I’ve still got a lot of work to do, hopefully a lot of titles to pick up, and hopefully I can keep going from strength-to-strength.”
Simon Dyson finished alone in third position and two shots behind the playoff while Australian Marcus Fraser birdied his final two holes to finish 4th alone and earn €191,000 (A$255,000).
Andrew Dodt was 53rd and Scott Strange 66th.
The European Tour now moves to Celtic Manor in Wales for the Wales Open followed by Sectional Qualifying for the US Open on Monday 6th.
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