MARANA, Arizona (AP)—The Match Play Championship ended with what must havefelt like a strange sensation for England’s Luke Donald . He was posing Sundaywith a trophy on American soil.
Donald spoiled Germany’s Martin Kaymer ’s rise to No. 1 in the world bywinning with a performance so dominant he never played the 18th hole all week.
On a bizarre final day in the high desert, which began with snow coveringthe fairways, Donald pulled ahead for good with a birdie on the par-5 11th and apar on the next hole, eventually closing out Kaymer on No. 16 for a 3-and-2victory.More on Match Play
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The consolation prize for Kaymer is going to No. 1 in the career, which heassured by reaching the championship match.
Donald was in more dire need of this trophy, however.
It was his first win in America in five years, and it was only his secondwin worldwide since he captured the 2006 Honda Classic. The 33-year-oldEnglishman had done just about everything right except win.
“I solely focus on trying to win tournaments,” Donald said. “I felt likeI hadn’t won my fair share for as good a player as I felt I was and could be. Itwas disappointing. It was frustrating to me. To come here and compete againstthe best players in the world and win the trophy is very gratifying.”
In what was a week like no other in the 13-year history of the AccentureMatch Play Championship. Donald played only 89 holes in six matches and nevertrailed in any of them. In fact, he led after 81 of those holes.
“It feels amazing,” Donald said. “I had a bit of a monkey on my back. Ihadn’t won in the U.S. in five years.”
Donald won his first World Golf Championship, and became the second playerfrom England to capture the Match Play Championship. He goes to a career-bestNo. 3 in the world to continue a European resurgence in the ranking.
The next world ranking will be Kaymer, Lee Westwood , Donald and GraemeMcDowell . It’s the first time since March 15, 1992, that the top four spots havebeen occupied by Europeans.
Matt Kuchar defeated Bubba Watson in the consolation match and will go toNo. 10 in the world.
This Match Play Championship will stand out for reasons beyond golf.
A late winter storm dusted Dove Mountain with nearly an inch of snow, andthe fairways were blankets of white in the morning. Donald looked out his hotelroom and suggested on Twitter that a snowball fight determine who had honors onthe first tee.
The snow had melted when they teed off, although dark clouds on the horizonloomed. Sleet began falling when the championship match reached the third green,and play was stopped when sleet covered the fourth fairway.
“Do we have to keep playing?” Kaymer asked chief referee Mark Russell.
Kaymer, who purchased a snood to wear around his neck, pulled it up over hismouth and looked like a real Western gunslinger (except for the pattern of flieson fish hooks). Donald took out his blue-and-white umbrella and crouched beneathit.
“It was kind of bizarre crouching under my umbrella like that,” Donaldsaid. “We had to pause for 10 or 15 minutes just for the green to dry out. Itwas testing conditions.”
When the fairways turned from white back to green, play resumed.
Donald seized on the moment. Already 1 up from his 18-foot birdie on thepar-5 second, he watched Kaymer hit a fade over the bunker to about 7 feet, thenanswered with a shot into 2 feet for a conceded birdie. Kaymer missed, andDonald was 2 up.
On the next hole, Kaymer pulled his drive into the desert and fell anotherhole down.
Donald three-putted for bogey from below the ridge to lose his first hole,and Kaymer squared the match at the turn with a birdie on the eighth and a bogeyon No. 9, where Donald hit his approach into a desert bush and had to return tohis original spot in the fairway.
The turning point might have been No. 10.
Kaymer had all the momentum and blistered a tee shot down the middle, whileDonald went from a scrubby lie in the desert to a waste area short of the green.Donald, however, blasted out to 3 feet for a conceded par.
He took the lead on the 11th by making an 8-foot birdie putt as Kaymermissed his birdie from just inside 6 feet, and Donald regained all the moment onthe next hole when Kaymer came up short into the sand and took bogey.
Donald went 3 up on the 15th when Kaymer missed a birdie putt from inside 4feet, and the “Germanator” conceded the match on the 16th when he failed tohole a 30-foot birdie putt.
It was the first time the championship match was decided over 18 holesinstead of 36.