The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Luke clinches crown

- Englishman wins florida meet, reclaims No. 1 spot
Luke Donald of England kisses the trophy, in Palm Harbour, on Sunday. (AFP)

Palm Harbour: England’s Luke Donald sank a six-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole on Sunday to win a four-man playoff to win the Transitions Championship in Florida and reclaim the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

Donald had surrendered the top spot to Rory McIlroy just two weeks ago but ended the Northern Ireland prodigy’s reign by capturing the championship, the Englishman's final tune-up event for next month’s Masters.

Hoping to finally capture his elusive first Major at Augusta National next month, Donald took his triumph in stride.

“It’s another step in the right direction to winning Majors," Donald said. “This is prefect preparation two weeks off now and looking toward Augusta.”

Donald, South Korean rookie Bae Sang-Moon and Americans Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus finished 72 holes deadlocked for the lead at 13-under par 271 at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead course.

The playoff took place on the par four 18th hole, with Donald the only player to find the dense rough off the tee. Donald hit the perfect 7-iron from the rough to six feet beneath the hole but Garrigus put his second shot only seven feet from the cup.

After Bae and Furyk missed long birdie putts, Garrigus pushed his birdie bid just left of the cup, setting the stage for Donald’s dramatic winning birdie putt that dethroned McIlroy.

“I certainly was a lot more nervous the first time trying to get to No. 1," Donald said. “This time I was just focused on winning the tournament and it all worked out.”

Meanwhile, Arjun Atwal faltered after a good start to card a three-over 74 that saw him finish tied 51st. Atwal, who made his first cut of the season this week, finished with a total of two-under 282.

Atwal started with a birdie on the first and then parred the next five holes before disaster struck him in the form of a triple bogey on the par-four seventh hole.

A bogey on 10th was followed by birdies on 12th and 14th and then came two more bogeys on 16th and 17th.

Furyk, who closed with a 69, had an awkward lie just short of the bunker and left himself a 40-foot putt. Bae (68) missed his birdie attempt from 18 feet. Garrigus, who birdied the last two holes in regulation for a 64, pounded his tee shot and hit wedge into seven feet, but he pulled his birdie putt.

That set the stage for Donald, who had hit a superb shot from the rough that barely cleared the bunker.