Donald becomes golf s new No 1 with playoff win


VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP)—Luke Donald won a duel for No. 1 with aplayoff victory over fellow-Englishman Lee Westwood .

Westwood entered the BMW PGA Championship at No. 1, but it was Donald’sapproach shot on No. 18—the first playoff hole—that will send him to the topwhen the new golf rankings are released Monday.

While Donald’s approach landed a few feet from the hole Sunday, Westwoodsent his shot into a water hazard in the tournament at Wentworth. And just likethat, Donald was a winner and No. 1 in the world.

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“Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?” asked Donald, who joins Westwood andNick Faldo as the only Englishmen to hold the No. 1 spot since rankings wereintroduced in 1986. “It’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s something I will bevery proud of when I look back. I will savor this moment, it’s very special. Ithink I will stay the same person, I hope I do.”

The win was only the second in stroke play for Donald in the past fiveyears. He won the Madrid Masters on the European Tour last year. In February, hebeat a top field in winning the Match Play Championships in Marana, Ariz.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of staying No. 1,” Donald said. “Iknow Lee and Martin (Kaymer) will be chasing me very hard.”

Having trailed co-leaders Matteo Manassero and Donald by two strokesentering the final round, Westwood shot a 3-under 68. Donald shot 70 and bothfinished at 6-under 278.

Simon Dyson of England (69) finished third at 280, with Marcus Fraser ofAustralia, Raphael Jacquelin of France and Shane Lowry of Ireland another shotback with 281s.

Donald missed two previous chances to become No. 1, losing to Ian Poulter inthe World Match Play final last week in Spain and falling to Brandt Snedeker ina playoff at The Heritage in April.

But his consistency in finishing in the top 10 for the past nine tournamentsensured his first playoff victory on either the European or PGA Tour will givehim the No. 1 ranking.

Donald said Westwood’s water-bound approach in the playoff was more bad luckthan poor execution.

“It wasn’t a bad shot, just had a little bit too much spin on it. It wasjust unfortunate, you don’t like to see that,” Donald said. “Lee is a championand has been a great No. 1 for European golf.”

After rounds of 72 and 72, Donald began the final day by going bogey-bogey,visibly blanching after duffing his chip at the par-3 No. 2 from just off thegreen.

Manassaero double-bogeyed No. 3 after needing two shots to reach the greenfrom an adjacent bunker. Donald birdied the next hole to draw even.

Westwood, however, made four birdies in nine holes after a bogey on No. 3 tosit on top of the leaderboard.

Another birdie on the difficult No. 15 green was made possible by one of theshots of the tournament. Having missed the fairway with his driver and receivinga free drop, Westwood carved a 7-iron with draw that rolled within 4 feet of thehole, the putt moving him two strokes ahead of Donald.

That lead evaporated at No. 16.

Westwood three-putted after having dropped his club in his follow throughfrom the tee. Donald, in the next group, landed his approach within a foot ofthe hole—and the top two players in the world were even again.

Down the stretch, Donald and Westwood mixed the substandard with thesublime.

Donald’s birdie putt lipped out on No. 17 after a brilliant rescue shot froman approach that hit a tree. He landed his tee shot into the bunker at No. 18,not long after Westwood had sent his 5-wood into the gallery.

Both players made par and headed back to No. 18 for the playoff that wouldresult in a new No. 1.