Luke Donald has won the WGC Accenture Match Play, defeating newly crowned World Number 1, Martin Kaymer 4 & 3 on a blustery, cold day in Arizona.
The ground staff were out early preparing the Jack Nicklaus designed course after a rare overnight snowfall in the desert. This certainly gave the players something different to think about when beginning their round.
First off was the consolation match between Big hitting Bubba Watson and fellow American Matt Kuchar. This match saw little decent golf and Kuchar eventually prevailed as Watson found it almost impossible to find a fairway.
Donald would have wanted to get off to a fast start, as he had done all week. His previous 4 rounds containing only one bogey, a tremendous achievement at a tough and demanding course. The final started no differently, Donald bursting out the blocks and going 3 up in the space of 5 holes. After halving the first with two pars, Donald jumped to an early lead, holing an 18 footer for Birdie at the long par 5 second.
Both players made good up and down’s at the par 3 third and as the sleet began to fall, Donald pounced to go two up, knocking his second to three feet. Kaymer missed his 7 foot birdie chance, his second shot made to look very ordinary by Donald’s pure strike.
An up and down from the greenside bunker put Donald 3 up as Kaymer had to take an unplayable from the desert scrub. Kaymer breathed a sigh of relief as Donald finally missed a putt for a half at the next, going back to 2 up. A half followed at the 7th, a par from players.
Kaymer kept snapping at the heels of his opponent who was, for the first time in the week, beginning to become a little flustered. Kaymer birdied the par 5, 8th to go back to just 1 down and a miss-hit into the desert, a rare poor strike from the Englishman, gifted the 9th to Kaymer, the World Number one fighting back from 3 down to square the match at the turn.
A lesser golfer may have lost his head at this point. Not Luke Donald. After halving the 10th, Donald lays up 93 yards from the pin on the 11th and after seeing Kaymer hit a good shot to inside 10 feet, goes and hits it inside him to three feet. Kaymer’s rare birdie miss gave Donald a chance for the hole and he duly delivered, sinking his short attempt to go 1 up again.
The momentum had turned and Donald doubled his lead at the 12th with a par, capitalizing on a poor iron shot from the German. Both players made birdie at the par 5, 13th and Donald went to the 14th 2 up with 5 to play, looking stronger than ever.
Another half followed and the players reached the drivable par 4, 15th with Kaymer running out of holes. Donald went first, landing a good drive just short of the green, Kaymer doing the same but further right. Donald poured on the pressure, stiffing his pitch to inside three feet and then wathed Kaymer miss his short birdie attempt. Three up, three to play.
The pressure doesn’t faze Donald: his soft draw finding the green just over 10 feet away. Kaymer needs something special, his tee shot is good but not good enough. Donald has a two putt to win the Championship and he rolls the first one down to three feet and the match is over.
With this victory, a tournament which he truly dominated, Donald moves to number three in the world, making it an all-European trio at the top. Tiger is relegated to 5th, slipping further and further down, behind McDowell now.
Donald truly deserved his win, never being behind at any point in the week. He must be eyeing a major title now this summer. His first attempt will be The Masters in April, in Augusta, Georgia.