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Luke Donald claims first WGC title

Luke Donald concluded a week of dominant golf by winning the biggest title of his career with a 3&2 victory over Germany’s Martin Kaymer in Sunday’s final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Three up after just five holes on a chilly day at Dove Mountain’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Donald held off a front-nine fightback by the German before sealing the win with a two-putt par at the short 16th.

It was Donald’s third PGA Tour victory but his first in an elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event and will lift him to a career-high third in the world rankings on Monday.

Kaymer, who had been bidding for his second triumph on the U.S. circuit, will take over from Britain’s Lee Westwood as world number one when the new rankings are issued.

“It’s been an amazing week,” a beaming Donald told reporters after winning his first PGA Tour title since the 2006 Honda Classic. “It’s been a long time since I’ve won in the U.S.

“To come here and beat the top 63 players in the world is very gratifying. I had a lot of good things happen, made a bunch of birdies, never trailed in a match.

“And hat’s off to Martin for becoming number one in the world,” the Englishman added after earning the winner’s cheque of $1.4 million. “It’s quite an accomplishment.”

Although Kaymer delivered his worst display of the week with three bogeys and two birdies in the final, he paid tribute to Donald’s rock-steady form.

“I was trying everything I could, I just didn’t play as good as the last few days,” the 26-year-old German said. “And the way Luke plays, even a decent round isn’t enough.”

On a day which began with almost an inch of snow blanketing Dove Mountain before it thawed out under morning sunshine, Kaymer briefly savoured his imminent rise to world number one.

“I was very relaxed this morning, saw the snow, was walking on my balcony and was enjoying the moment, knowing I will become the number one in the world tomorrow,” he said.

For the first time in 19 years, Europeans will occupy the first four spots in the rankings with Kaymer, Westwood, Donald and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell. Tiger Woods drops to fifth.

Donald, the only player this week who never trailed in any of his matches, made a fast start to the final when he rolled in a 16-footer to birdie the par-five second and go one up.

After a brief suspension in play due to a hailstorm, he also birdied the par-four fourth after hitting an exquisite approach to three feet to go two up.

Kaymer then bogeyed the par-four fifth after pulling his drive into the desert waste and taking two more shots to reach the green to go three down.

However Donald faltered at the par-three sixth with a three-putt bogey and Kaymer birdied the par-five eighth, knocking in a four-foot putt, to cut the lead to just one.

Worse was to follow for Donald at the par-four ninth where Kaymer missed the green with his approach before the Englishman hit his second shot into an unplayable lie in the desert scrub.

Donald ended up triple-bogeying the hole for Kaymer, who recorded a bogey there, to level the match.

“I was frustrated,” the Briton said. “I don’t like giving away holes. But at the same time, I told myself I’m swinging well. I’m still not down in the match and I’ve never been down this week.”

Two holes later, Donald regained a one-up lead when he sank a seven-footer for birdie before watching Kaymer’s attempt from just five feet slip past the right edge.

Kaymer then bogeyed the par-three 12th after finding a bunker off the tee and two-putting from 18 feet for Donald, who comfortably parred the hole, to go two up.

At the par-four 15th, both players were just short of the green off the tee and chipped up close to the hole but Kaymer surprisingly missed his birdie attempt from inside four feet to trail by three.

Donald then sealed victory at the par-three 16th where he hit his tee shot to 13 feet to set up a rock-solid par.

In the consolation match, Matt Kuchar beat fellow American Bubba Watson 2&1 to secure third place.


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