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Sunday, 18 March 2012
Luke Donald  (Getty Images)
Luke Donald (Getty Images)
Luke Donald returned to Number One in the Official World Golf Ranking with victory at the Transitions Championship.

A closing 66 took Donald into a four-man play-off with Bae Sang-moon, Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus.

There had been only five birdies at Innisbrook’s 18th all day, but on their return Donald found one to win the first extra hole and dislodge Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy had gone to World Number One just two weeks ago with victory at the Honda Classic, and with Justin Rose’s WGC-Cadillac Championship win in between Donald’s win completed a hattrick for Europeans on the US PGA Tour.

A run of five birdies in the first 11 holes moved Donald into contention, before he consolidated with seven successive pars to make sure of a 16th top-ten finish in his last 22 US PGA Tour events.

He hit an excellent approach shot on the first hole of the play-off with a seven iron from the rough - and holed the putt to make sure of the victory.

Robert Garrigus had also given himself a birdie opening - but the American's chance had gone when the putt went past the hole.

Donald admitted the win was a morale booster ahead of the Masters Tournament.

He said: "I feel like I've achieved a lot in my career but this is perfect preparation. I've got two weeks off now and can look forward to Augusta.

"I certainly was a lot more nervous about getting to number one the first time. This time it wasn't my focus - I was focused on winning the tournament and it all worked out."

McIlroy was quick to praise his Ryder Cup team-mate as he said on Twitter: "Well I enjoyed it while it lasted! Congrats @LukeDonald! Impressive performance!"

Garrigus had given himself a chance of victory with birdies on the last two holes giving him a seven under round of 64.

Bae, seeking to become only the third South Korean to win a US PGA Tour event, held the lead yesterday but a final-round 68 was enough to earn him a place in the play-off, while joint overnight leader Furyk managed a 69.

Fellow overnight leader Retief Goosen slipped out of contention, finishing on seven under after a final round 75.

Ernie Els appeared to be in a good position when he held a narrow advantage with two holes to play but a pair of bogeys on the final two holes ended his hopes of victory and saw him finish a shot off the pace alongside Scott Piercy, Jeff Overton and Ken Duke.

Piercy hit the round of the day, a nine under par 62. The 33 year old birdied seven birdies in his first nine holes today and added two more at the 14th and 16th.

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