Sunday, 27 February 2011
Luke Donald   (Getty Images)
Luke Donald (Getty Images)

England's Luke Donald proved himself the man for all seasons in Tucson as he beat new World Number One Martin Kaymer to become World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Champion.

After snow in the night and a brief suspension during play because of a hailstorm, the sun was shining when Donald - never behind all week - clinched his first victory in America in five years by a 3 and 2 margin.

The 33 year old did not even have to play the final hole in any of his six games as he put his name on a trophy won by compatriot Ian Poulter last year.

And it was a US$1,350,000 triumph that lifts him all the way from ninth in the Official World Golf Ranking to third.

With Kaymer first, Lee Westwood now down to second and Graeme McDowell fourth, Europe holds the top four spots for the first time since 1992 when Ian Woosnam, Sir Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazábal and Seve Ballesteros topped the rankings.

Donald won three of the first five holes, but Kaymer took the short sixth with a par, the long eighth with a birdie and then the 476 yard ninth with a bogey five when Donald came up short in the desert scrub and, after taking a penalty drop, ran up a seven.

In danger of going behind for the first time in any of his six games Donald did well to save a half on the tenth after finding more trouble, then nosed in front again when he holed from nine feet on the next and Kaymer missed from six.

The gap became two when the Dusseldorf golfer failed to get up and down from sand at the 12th and Kaymer looked resigned to defeat when he missed a three footer to lose the 15th.

Donald said: "I can't describe it - I'm close to tears.

"It feels amazing. I've put a lot of work in over the last five years and it's nice to see it pay off.

"You always have doubts and the wheels were coming off a bit, so the up and down on the tenth was huge and to have three birdies in the last six holes was special.

"Hopefully it will open the gates. I'm not a modern-day player because I don't hit it that far and that makes it harder for me, but this is great win and I hope there are more to come.

"This is a win for a lot of people and means a lot. It's also a good (first) birthday present for my little daughter."

During his long barren spell in the States one American writer even coined the term "Luke Donald Disease" to sum up the bunch of British and Irish players who at the time appeared to fall just short of titles on a regular basis.

But last year Poulter was followed by Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose (twice) and Westwood. Now Donald has kept the run going.

Kaymer was trying to make it five wins in his last 11 starts, a run that began with his first Major title at the US PGA Championship last August, although he had the ample compensation of his rise to the top of the rankings.

In the all-American third place play-off, meanwhile, Matt Kuchar beat Bubba Watson 2 and 1.

 

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