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Donald Takes BMW, World No. 1 Mantle
by Paul Mahoney - May 29, 2011

“It feels fantastic,” Donald said at Wentworth after beating Lee Westwood in a playoff to win the BMW PGA Championship, €750,000 ($1 million), and rise to the summit of the game for the first time.

“I’ve been runner-up a few times in my career, but to come through in these circumstances in one of the biggest tournaments in the world, going head-to-head with Lee for the No.1 ranking, that was pretty special,” he added. “Not sure that will happen again. Unique history has been made. It will be a great story when I’m an old man to tell my grandkids one day that I was once the best player in the world at golf.”

Donald had the chutzpah early in the week to suggest that he was the best player in the world.

Westwood said nothing but you just knew he was going to try to ram Donald’s words down his throat.

Eight shots back after the first round, Westwood clawed his way back and missed two late putts to win.

They were tied at 6 under after regulation.

The playoff began on Wentworth’s West par-5 18th, a course controversially re-designed last year by Ernie Els. It was water for Westwood; champagne for Donald and a new world order.

Both Englishmen had received vociferous support from the home crowd. This was European, and British, golf strutting its stuff, and record crowds came into Wentworth to bear witness.

“It’s cool to have your own chant,” Donald said. “They’re not mooing or booing. It’s ‘Luuuke!’ ”

Feel the force. Westwood did and so did Matteo Manassero, playing in the final group with Donald. The 18-year-old Italian furthered the belief that he will become a major force in the game.

He has charm, star-appeal, a swing and physical looks that mean the spirit of his idol, Seve Ballesteros, will never die. The kid has grit, too. He’ll make his U.S. Opendebut next month before taking time off to finish his exams.

Ian Poulter isn’t your average 30-something. He earned the wrath of Els by slating the course. “I hate it. Period,” he said. “End of story.”

Els has already exacted some verbal revenge, believing the result vindicates his course. “The cream rises to the top, and that’s what’s happened here,” Els said of Donald and Westwood. “They haven’t got into the mudthrowing match. To see the two best players in the world slug it out at the flagship event on our tour is very special.”

And what a fight it was.

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