Skip to main content

Donald dispels doubts to regain top spot

March 19, 2012 -- Updated 2159 GMT (0559 HKT)
Luke Donald was top of the world rankings for 40 weeks before losing his spot to Rory McIlroy two weeks ago.
Luke Donald was top of the world rankings for 40 weeks before losing his spot to Rory McIlroy two weeks ago.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luke Donald returned to No. 1 in the world with win at Transitions Championship
  • The Briton lost top spot to 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy two weeks ago
  • Donald clinched victory on Sunday with victory in a four-man playoff
  • The 34-year-old started the final round three shots of the leaders

(CNN) -- When Luke Donald became the first player to top the PGA and European Tour money lists in December last year, it seemed unimaginable the Briton's position at the top of world golf would be called into question just three months later.

But following U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy's victory at Palm Beach a fortnight ago, Donald found himself knocked off top spot for the first time in 40 weeks and having to prove he was capable of recreating his record-breaking form of 2011.

Donald's emphatic response to his doubters came on Sunday, as he overcame a three-shot deficit heading into the final round to clinch a playoff triumph at the Transitions Championship in Florida.

"I think people thought that my last year was maybe a little bit more of a, not a fluke, but I don't think many people thought I could do that all over again this year," Donald told the PGA Tour's official website. "Hopefully I can prove them wrong."

The 34-year-old holed a birdie putt on the first additional hole to defeat American duo Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus and South Korea's Sang-moon Bae, having carded a five-under-par 65 to launch himself into contention.

When asked if he felt he had been disregarded by some following McIlroy's brief reign at the top, Donald responded: "Absolutely. I don't pay too much attention to it, but I certainly wasn't in the media at all."

I think golf is in a good spot right now, there's a lot of excitement going on
Luke Donald

One of the first players to congratulate Donald on his return to the top of the rankings was McIlroy, who used his official Twitter account to say: "Well I enjoyed it while it lasted! Congrats @LukeDonald! Impressive performance!"

Donald, who is now guaranteed to occupy the No. 1 position heading into the Masters next month, backed his European Ryder Cup teammate to maintain his challenge at the top of the sport.

"I'm sure he got a taste of the view and I'm sure he'll want more of it. He's a great player," Donald said of the 22-year-old. "I think golf is in a good spot right now. There's a lot of excitement going on."

Donald, Furyk (69), Garrigus (64) and Bae (68) finished the tournament on 13 under, one stroke clear of American trio Scott Piercy (62), Jeff Overton (66) and Ken Duke (68).

Also on 12 under was South African three-time major winner Ernie Els, who led the field on 14 under with just three holes to play.

Bogies on the 17th and 18th holes saw Els' challenge fade and they could ultimately cost the "Big Easy" a spot at the Masters.

"It's going to be tough," said world No. 62 Els, who would have qualified for the prestigious Augusta event with victory.

"I'm pretty hot now, and it's difficult to talk with a straight head here. If I take stock, I think I'm playing good golf, and I've got to head into the next couple of weeks trying to get a win."

Els now has just two tournaments to qualify for the year's first major. The veteran's best chance might come at next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational as the event is skipped by a lot of the game's biggest names.

American Bo van Pelt (66) finished alone in ninth on 11 under, one shot ahead of compatriots Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Kevin Streelman and Jason Dufner.

Spain's Sergio Garcia (70) finished on eight under in a four-way tie for 16th, ahead of 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen (68) and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington (71) -- who were part of a nine-way tie for 20th.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
It's a big dilemma: Be with your wife for the birth of your first child, or stay at work and try to earn $11 million. For Billy Horschel, it's a no-brainer.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Masters champion Bubba Watson says winning the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot would bring forward his retirement from the game.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the 14th green during the third round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 15, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Ian Poulter kept Europe clinging on in their Ryder Cup battle with the United States in Chicago.
Ian Poulter, who has constantly haunted the U.S. in Ryder Cup golf, is back after being chosen as a wildcard by European captain Paul McGinley.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
ADVERTISEMENT