Luke Donald failed to capitalise on the one shot lead he took into the final round of The Heritage at Hilton Head, South Carolina and ended up being mugged for the title by United States’ Brandt Snedeker.
With the American starting the day a full six shots behind Donald, the pressure was off for Snedeker and he enjoyed a final day 64 to move him to 12-under par and present a chance at the win.
However, he would have to win it from the clubhouse as Donald, as well as the likes of defending Jim Furyk, Ricky Barnes, Tommy Gainey and Tim ‘Lumpy’ Herron were all mounting challenges of their own and it seemed at one stage that Snedeker’s 12-under par total wouldn’t be quite good enough to secure a second PGA Tour win.
Snedeker birdied seven of the opening 12 holes before a bogey on the 13th hole. He then birdied the 14th hole, dropped another shot at the 16th and made another gain at the last to post his 64.
Tim Herron arrived at the 18th needing a birdie to join Snedeker for the lead in the clubhouse but could only finish with a bogey to drop into a share of fourth alongside Ricky Barnes who made two bogeys on the homeward nine after getting into contention courtesy of four outward birdies.
Ex-baseball player, Tommy ‘Two Gloves’ Gainey needed a birdie from his last three holes to also take a share of the lead – two would have seen him climb above Snedeker’s total – but couldn’t find one, and finished 3rd.
Jim Furyk had a mountain to climb, having dropped back to 9-under par. But the defending champion suffered a disastrous 15th hole where, just short of the green he addressed his ball only to have it move. After consulting with an official, Furyk’s ball was deemed to merely have oscillated – and so no penalty – but the player also remonstrated with a spectator who tried to get involved in the rules call. The whole incident clearly rattled the 2010 FedEx Cup winner who racked up a double- bogey seven. He then double-bogeyed the last to drop to 5-under par and a share of 21st place.
It was left to Luke Donald then to beat Snedeker’s score, and not for the first time the Englishman made heavy weather of converting the winning chance. Reaching the turn one-under par, Donald bogeyed the 10th to drop one behind Snedeker before tying the lead with a birdie at the 13th hole.
However, the Englishman couldn’t convert another birdie chance and was forced to scramble for pars on each of the last two holes and so for the second year in succession The Heritage would be settled by a playoff.
Playing the 18th again, first Donald rolled in a 12-footer for birdie before being followed in by Snedeker’s putt from 10-feet. At the second extra hole – the par-3 17th – Snedeker hit the green, but Donald’s ball came up short in the greenside bunker. A sand-save to within five feet set up a par and with Snedeker failing to convert his birdie it was onto the 18th once more.
Snedeker found the green in two, but Donald tried to force a 9-iron and ended up plugged in the front bunker. His recovery shot left and came to rest in the first cut of grass. With Snedeker making par, Donald had to chip in but saw his ball spin out of the hole to hand the win to the American.
Snedeker’s win saw him pocket $1,026,000 and became possibly the last winner of The Heritage, as the event is without a sponsor for 2012. The event is likely to be scratched for next season if no sponsor can be found.
For Donald, it was a missed opportunity to become the world’s number one golfer – a win in The Heritage would have seen the Englishman climb above Lee Westwood to the top position in the Offical Golf World Rankings. Instead, it is the Worksop player who regains the top status after his win in the Indonesian Masters.
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