England’s Luke Donald beat new World Number 1 Martin Kaymer by 3 and 2 to win the final of the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
Donald played an amazing week’s golf in the first WGC event of 2011. The 33-year-old was never behind in a match and was never taken as far as the 18th hole.
The victory earned Donald over €1 million and catapulted him from ninth to third on the Official World Golf Ranking. With Kaymer now first, Lee Westwood in second and Graeme McDowell in fourth, European golfers occupy the first four spots in the rankings for the first time since 1992.
In the final, Donald saw a familiar pattern emerging as he raced into an early lead – three up through just five holes. Even a brief hailstorm couldn’t throw the Englishman off his stride and it looked like being a procession to the title.
But Kaymer struck back, winning three holes in a row from the sixth to level the match at the turn. Donald was wobbling and needed to steady himself fast as he faced going behind for the first time all week after finding trouble at the 10th.
He managed to scrape a half there, however, after a brilliant up-and-down from a scrub area. He then moved back in front, holing a good putt on the 11th before Kaymer missed from closer range.
Donald also won the 12th and the deal was effectively sealed when the German missed a short putt for a half on the 15th. A half was all that was required at the 16th and the title went to Donald.
“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,” said Donald. “You always have doubts and the wheels were coming off a bit, so the up and down on the 10th 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.”
In the consolation match, Matt Kuchar saw off Bubba Watson to take third place.
WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship
Ritz-Carlton GC, Dove Mountain, Arizona
Feb 23-27, purse €6,200,000, par 72
1 Luke Donald (Eng) €1,027,923
2 Martin Kaymer (Ger) €624,096
3 Matt Kuchar (USA) €440,538
4 Bubba Watson (USA) €359,773
T5 J.B. Holmes (USA) €198,242
T5 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp) €198,242
T5 Ryan Moore (USA) €198,242
T5 Y.E. Yang (Kor) €198,242
Note: Player result in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only