Win boosts Donald to No 1

2012-03-19 06:56
Luke Donald (Gallo)

Florida - Luke Donald reclaimed the World No 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy by winning the US PGA Transitions Championship on Sunday, but wants McIlroy and Tiger Woods to enjoy the Masters spotlight.

Two weeks before players gather at Augusta National for the first major tournament of the year, England's Donald won a four-man playoff to take back the top ranking spot he surrendered when McIlroy won in Miami two weeks ago.

"Well I enjoyed it while it lasted!" McIlroy said in a Twitter message. "Congrats Luke Donald! Impressive performance!"

Donald, the reigning money champion of the US and European PGA Tours, has never won a major title and he hopes that his lofty status does not mean he might draw attention away from phenom McIlroy or 14-time major winner Woods.

"There might be a little bit more hype around me now," Donald said. "I'll probably be able to go about my business with a bit more attention, but I've been through that.

"I still think Rory and obviously Tiger will be getting a lot of the attention. I can kind of go about my business and not have to deal with as much as those two are dealing with."

Neither Donald nor McIlroy plan to play again before the Masters, while Woods, coming off a strained Achilles tendon, plans to play the Tavistock Cup 36-hole exhibition and the PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational in the coming week.

Donald plans some practice sessions with McIlroy this week and next in Florida and the top ranking figures to be a topic of conversation.

"I'm sure he got a taste of the view and I'm sure he'll want more of it," Donald said.

"I think golf is in a good spot right now. There's a lot of excitement going on. The good players are playing well and it's nice to have a little back and forth like that."

Donald sank a six-foot birdie on the first playoff hole on Sunday to defeat South Korean Bae Sang-Moon and Americans Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus, but that was after a spectacular 159-yard approach from the rough with a 7-iron barely cleared greenside bunkers.

Donald said, "That shot just came out perfectly. You never quite know out of the rough. That one, just when it was in the air, looked good to me."

Furyk, co-leader when the day began, was frustrated he could not hold the lead.

"The speed of my putts was off," Furyk said. "I left some makeable putts short. I could have done better with the opportunities I left myself."

Garrigus missed a seven-foot birdie just ahead of Donald's winning putt.

"I just misread the putt. It's unfortunate," Garrigus said. "Luke is a pretty good putter. He's going to make that putt when he has to."

South African Ernie Els, needing a victory to qualify for the Masters, led by a stroke with two holes to play but missed the playoff by finishing with back-to-back bogeys, the first after finding the rough off the tee.

"Played good golf," Els said. "I just hit one bad shot. That was on 17. It was a bit of a wait there and lost my rhythm and hit a bad shot there. Then missed a short putt on 18.

"If I take stock, I think I'm playing good golf, and I've got to head into the next couple of weeks trying to get a win."

Leading scores on Sunday after the final round of the $5.5 million US PGA Transitions Championship (USA unless noted, par-71, Donald won with a birdie on the first playoff hole):

271 - Robert Garrigus 67-72-68-64, Luke Donald (ENG) 67-68-70-66, Bae Sang-Moon (KOR) 69-66-68-68, Jim Furyk 66-70-66-69

272 - Scott Piercy 69-68-73-62, Jeff Overton 68-69-69-66, Ernie Els (RSA) 70-67-68-67, Ken Duke 68-67-69-68

273 - Bo Van Pelt 70-68-69-66

274 - Matt Kuchar 73-67-69-65, Webb Simpson 68-69-69-68, Kevin Streelman 68-69-69-68, Jason Dufner 66-66-71-71

275 - Charley Hoffman 69-71-67-68, Chris DiMarco 70-67-69-69

276 - Geoff Ogilvy (AUS) 72-68-70-66, Michael Thompson 68-70-71-67, Bud Cauley 68-71-69-68, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 68-68-70-70

277 - Bryce Molder 67-71-73-66, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 73-68-68-68, Jerry Kelly 69-68-71-69, Jason Day (AUS) 69-72-67-69, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 61-73-72-71, David Toms 67-72-67-71, Chez Reavie 68-70-67-72, John Mallinger 72-66-66-73, Retief Goosen (RSA) 69-68-65-75

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