Luke Donald dethroned Worksop’s Lee Westwood as world number one yesterday - beating him in a play-off to win the European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth.
The two Englishmen went into sudden death at the BMW PGA Championship after Westwood had missed a six-foot birdie putt on the par-five final hole.
Back up the 18th for the first hole of the play-off Donald pitched to six feet but Westwood, who ended the long reign of Tiger Woods last October, saw his 93-yard third shot spin into the water. Needing to hole his next shot to stand any chance, Westwood missed, then failed to make his putt as he ran up a double-bogey seven.
It left Donald with three putts to win. He needed only one to reach the summit of golf for the first time in his life.
After being named as number one, handed the trophy and a cheque for over £655,000, Donald said: “Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Hopefully there will be many more of these victories, but I will savour this - it’s an amazing achievement, something I am very proud of.”
A high-class field included all four current major champions, seven of the game’s top nine and all but the injured Padraig Harrington of the winning Ryder Cup team last year.
Although Westwood was so close to achieving a third successive stroke play victory, nobody can say that his Celtic Manor team-mate does not deserve top spot.
This was Donald’s ninth successive top-10 finish, a run that began with his victory at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona in February.
In that time he has earned over £3million - that works out at £77,140 for every round, or over £4,200 for every hole.
He also became the third successive English player to win after Paul Casey and Simon Khan. Simon Dyson’s third place meant that Englishmen filled the top three spots in the tournament for the first time since 1974.
Westwood, two behind at the start of the day, had gone two in front with a brilliant birdie at the 15th after his drive had been pulled into the crowd.
But he three-putted the next and Donald, in the group behind with 18-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, hit his approach to within 18 inches of the flag.
Neither could find a birdie at the two closing par fives. Westwood missed from six feet on the last for a 68 that set the target of 278, six under par. Donald forced a play-off with a par at the 18th hole.