Donald had started the final day’s play tied for the lead with young Italian Matteo Manassero, but it looked for much of the round as if the world number two was going to play second fiddle to Lee Westwood, who had begun two shots back.
A bogey-bogey start by Donald saw Westwood draw level after just two holes, but Donald regained the lead when Westwood made bogey on the 3rd hole. The pair shared birdies on the 4th hole before Westwood found two more birdies to take a one shot lead into the turn.
Donald briefly tied the lead again at the 10th, but found himself two behind with just three holes left to play as Westwood added further birdies at the 12th and 15th holes, while Donald could only muster pars.
The tide turned for Donald at the 16th where a birdie, coupled with a dropped shot by Westwood saw the pair level once again and they couldn’t be separated over the closing two holes – Westwood missing an 8-foot birdie putt on the last that would have given him victory. Similarly, Donald had – and missed – a 30 foot putt to seal the win.
In the playoff over the 18th hole, both players laid up short of the water hazard in two shots. As Donald put his approach to six feet, Westwood’s approach spun back off the green into the hazard. It was a cruel blow of misfortune for Westwood, who had looked for much of the round as if he was going to win. He signed for a 68, while Donald carded a 70.
Simon Dyson signed for a closing 69 to finish four under and create the first all-English one-two-three in the event since 1974.
Australian Marcus Fraser, Irishman Shane Lowry and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin finished a further two shots behind, while 2010 Ryder Cup skipper Colin Montgomerie recorded his first top-10 finish since 2008 with a closing 68 to take a share of 7th place with five other players including Manassero.
The Italian had a tough job in trying to repel the challenges of the top two players in the world, and it was perhaps no surprise to see the 18-year old crumble under the pressure with a series of wayward shots.
It was also third time lucky in terms of the world rankings as Donald’s win saw him leapfrog Lee Westwood at the head of the Official Golf World Rankings. Had Donald won either the Volvo World Match Play Championship last week where he was runner up to Ian Poulter, or The Heritage where he lost a playoff to Brandt Snedeker, he would have been crowned as number one earlier.
Donald’s win was also his ninth successive top-10 finish – his astounding run of form beginning at the WGC Accenture Matchplay back in February, and became the third successive English winner after Paul Casey in 2009 and Simon Khan in 2010.
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