Thrilled masses help mark Donald's Return to the Throne

27/05/2012 19:11:59
The Donald family enjoy victory  (Getty Images)
The Donald family enjoy victory (Getty Images)

It was as smooth and relaxed a coronation as one is ever likely to see, from the chief protagonist at least.

Luke Donald, having taken a four shot lead heading into the climactic hole of the 2012 BMW PGA Championship, went about the par five that created yet more history for the Englishman in typically dogmatic, Donaldesque fashion, amidst a backdrop of thrilled record crowds at Wentworth Club.

The 34 year old’s drive found the left hand fringes of the 18th fairway, lined by the swathes of people that have flocked to see the man once again crowned the finest golfer on the planet, just as happened 12 months ago.

A regulation lay-up was followed by a characteristically neat wedge from Donald that found the front portions of the infamous green, and the walk that followed was one that will live long in the memory of the 2012 BMW PGA Champion. 

The roars and cheers that greeted him as he strolled to the putting surface in the bright sunshine, stepping down the lush green West Course links, were both vociferous yet respectful of the incredible achievement of the Hemel Hempstead born man, who becomes the first to successfully defend the championship in 12 years.

Applause from the 18th green hospitality, from the packed grandstand behind, from the surging masses following the final grouping up the fairway, rang around the tree-lined Surrey heathland course, a sporting amphitheatre befitting the sporting spectacle that it once again hosted.

And the manner in which he cruised to victory down the final, treacherous holes of the West Course, plotting his course to victory with players of real calibre not far behind, pleased him greatly.

“I played nicely this whole week,” said Donald. “Today was the most difficult in terms of pressure and having never defended a title before. I knew I had to be mistake free and fortunately I got it done.

“But to play the back nine like that against players like Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie was pleasing and I certainly enjoyed the walk down 18 more than last year with a four shot lead.

“This is our biggest event on The European Tour and the number of people who came here this week to support me and the tournament speaks volumes. To come here and defend and get back to Number One is very sweet indeed.”

And as Donald approached the 18th green, the people with whom he has the closest bonds emerged in the throng in front of the grandstand; his wife Diane and their two children, and one thought back to the praise he afforded them following his first BMW PGA Championship triumph in May 2011.

Perhaps for a moment with the weight of his immense accomplishment lingering in his mind, he lagged a moderate and somewhat tentative putt towards the hole, but still allowed himself a satisfied smile before stroking it calmly in, striding emphatically into the annals of history as one of only three men to capture the championship in consecutive years.

He raised his putter in the distinctive Donald manner, removed his visor, and gave caddie John McLaren a long and thankful hug, before his family also joined the celebrations at the last, and he was once again quick to reference the positive influence they continue to have on his life, and on his game.    

He said: “I am very fortunate to have a great family, to have them here and share it with them. They are wonderful girls and I’m a very lucky man.”

And as lucky a man he is, the golfing world and the record attendance of more than 95,000 fans that graced Wentworth Club this week are equally as fortunate to have such an incredible talent on show, and he’s far from done yet.

“There are three Majors left this season,” he added. “That’s the next goal, to get one of those big ones.”

For Luke Donald, always something left to accomplish. But for now congratulations, once again World Number One, and 2012 BMW PGA Champion.