Luke Donald wins playoff, regains No. 1 world ranking | Golf
Englishman Luke Donald won the Transitions Championship, a PGA Tour event, in a four-man playoff and returned to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
PALM HARBOR, Fla. — One great round. One solid swing from the rough. One clutch birdie putt.
Those are the things Englishman Luke Donald needed to win the Transitions Championship in a four-man playoff and get back to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Donald was starting to feel overlooked in the two weeks since Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland replaced him atop the world ranking, and he allowed a few doubts about his game to creep into his head.
That changed on a steamy Sunday at Innisbrook, where Donald closed with a 5-under-par 66 and won the playoff on the first extra hole.
Donald hit a 7-iron out of the rough to 6 feet below the cup, setting up a birdie that eliminated Robert Garrigus (64), Bae Sang-moon (68) and Jim Furyk (69).
The four were at 13-under 271 after 72 holes at the Copperhead course.
"I think people ... thought that my last year was maybe a little bit more of a — not a fluke, but I don't think many people thought I could do that all over again this year," Donald said. "Hopefully, I can prove them wrong."
With his fifth victory in his last 31 starts around the world, Donald went back to No. 1 and will stay there until he gets to Augusta National and tries to capture his first major championship at the Masters, which starts April 5.
McIlroy wasted no time sending his congratulations through Twitter.
"Well I enjoyed it while it lasted! Congrats @LukeDonald! Impressive performance!" McIlroy tweeted.
Donald, 34, earned $990,000 for the victory. He was at No. 1 for 40 weeks before being passed by McIlroy
Of his 157-yard shot from the rough in the playoff, Donald said, "That shot just came out perfectly. You never quite know out of the rough."
Ernie Els (67) suffered through a bogey-bogey finish and was among four players at 272. He also missed a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and might have to win one of the next two PGA Tour events to qualify for the Masters.
"It's going to be tough," Els said. "I'm pretty hot now, and it's difficult to talk with a straight head here."
Charlie Wi (78) took a 13 on the par-5 fifth hole.
• Top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan (4-under 68) two-putted for a par from 40 feet in fading light to hold off second-ranked Na Yeon Choi (68) of South Korea and Ai Miyazato (69) of Japan by a stroke in the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix.
Tseng, 23, finished at 18 under and earned $225,000 for her 14th LPGA Tour title.
Ex-Washington Huskies player Paige Mackenzie (69) of Yakima and Jimin Kang (72), a graduate of King's High School in Shoreline, were among those tied for 43rd place at 2 under. Wendy Ward (76), who lives near Edwall, outside Spokane, tied for 58th at 1 over.
• Loren Roberts shot a 2-under 69 to win the Toshiba Classic, an event on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, by two strokes over Mark Calcavecchia (73), Tom Kite (69) and Bernhard Langer (70) at Newport Beach Country Club in California.
Roberts, 56, had a 54-hole total of 8-under 205 and earned $262,500.
Seattle native Fred Couples (73) tied for eighth place.
Roberts won the 2009 Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Each of the players who tied for second also has won the Boeing Classic — Calcavecchia last year, Langer in 2010 and Kite in 2008 and 2006.