Snedeker wins: Westy back at No 1

Lee Westwood and not Luke Donald has toppled Germany’s Martin Kaymer from the summit of the World Ranking list.

Britain’s Lee Westwood had toppled Germany’s Martin Kaymer and returned to the top of the latest World Ranking list when it was published on Monday morning.

This after fellow Englishman Luke Donald, who was in prime position on Sunday to capture the No 1 spot for the first time in his career with a victory at The Heritage in South Carolina, lost his crucial play-off against American Brandt Snedeker.

Earlier on Sunday in the Far East, Westwood, who had held the top ranking for 17 weeks after replacing Tiger Woods in November and before he was in turn replaced by Kaymer, had reclaimed the No 1 spot with a comfortable win in the Asian Tour’s inaugural Indonesian Masters in Jakarta.

The Asian event offered fewer ranking points than The Heritage, however, so Donald, who held a one-shot lead going into the final round at Harbour Town Golf Links, only needed to win to leap-frog both Kaymer and Westwood for the top ranking.

To his dismay, however, the US-based Englishman saw Snedeker come storming out of the pack in Sunday’s final round to reel him in with a spectacular 7-under 64.

In the end, Donald, after awry approach shots at each the last two holes, had to fight for his life to make the 70 that would take him into the play-off.

“It was going to be some big rewards if I won today,” Donald told the media after losing to Snedeker in the third of the drama-packed extra holes in their sudden-death playoff.

“But I’ll try and find the positives from this week and move on to next week. I came pretty close … but I’ve still got some time on my side.”

Donald, who claimed his third PGA Tour victory at the elite WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, had been bidding to become the fourth world No 1 in less than six months.

“Certainly number one is not the final goal,” the 33-year-old said. “It’s a constant travel. You’re constantly moving forward in this game. To be number one would be great, but it’s not everything.

“It certainly would be a tick in the box and it would be something great to talk to the grand kids (about) in 30 years’ time and say that you were the best in the world, but I still have a lot of chances to do that.”

With former world number one Woods having lost the aura of dominance he once enjoyed, Donald was excited about the prospect of multiple changes at the top of the rankings.

“Certainly there are a lot of people who have a chance to be number one right now,” he said. “I think it’s a fun time in golf.

“Obviously Tiger dominated for a number of years and no one was close to him. But now it’s a little bit more of a race … and that’s kind of fun for the spectators.”

In the play-off Donald halved the first two extra holes in threes, but then, playing the 18th again, he found a bunker guarding the green and after Snedeker had made par, he still needed to find the hole with a chip to match him.

The ball rattled around the hole, but to his dismay, failed to stay in and Snedeker was the man who was able to punch the air in victory.

It was Snedeker second PGA Tour victory and his first since the 2007 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro in his rookie season and he will always remember his wait in the TV room to see if he would make the play-off.

“It was brutal,” he recalled.

“I didn’t want them to do bad, but I didn’t want them to do great, either.

“To win this time, after all the hard work I put in the last three or four years, trying to improve, trying to get better,” he said. “I feel like my game is finally there.

“It was a storybook ending really, to be playing Luke in a playoff, to even have a chance to win was exciting to me,” he said.

Earlier Donald, who had been in command for most of the week, had began the day with a one-shot lead and when he made a tap-in birdie on the par-five second where he had struggled all week and where he had taken a seven on Saturday, it looked to be a good omen.

It wasn’t.

He gave the shot straight back when he drove into a bunker on the next.

He did bounce back with two more birdies in succession to regain the outright lead at 13 under.

His nearest pursuer at that stage was American Ricky Barnes who had birdied four of the first five holes to reach 12 under. Barnes, who was chasing a first win on the US PGA Tour, missed a short birdie putt at the eighth, though, and two bogeys on the back nine saw him finish joint fourth on 10 under.

Compatriot Snedeker, meanwhile, recorded three birdies in a row from the second and six in total on the front nine as he surged to 11 under.

Yet another birdie followed on the 12th and, though he bogeyed the par-four 13th, a further birdie followed that left him just one shot behind Donald at 12-under.

The Englishman promptly bogeyed the par-three seventh after mis-hitting a difficult bunker shot and a further dropped shot at the 10th where he missed a four-foot par putt, opened the way for Snedeker to join him on top of the leaderboard

Snedeker bogeyed 16, but hit his approach at the last to 12 feet and rolled in a good birdie putt to finish at 12 with an excellent 64.

Donald recovered to go back to 12-under with a birdie at 13, having done well to escape with a par at the 12 after driving into the trees.

Local favourite Tommy Gainey, meanwhile, had entered the race under the radar with an eagle the fifth and three birdies, but after birdie putts at the last two holes stayed out, he was forced to settle for third.

Donald missed a seven-foot birdie putt at the 16th and went through the green at the short 17th to leave him with an awkward pitch over a high bank to save par. He did

Another poor approach at the last found the bunker in front of the green. He went very close to winning the tournament when his bunker shot all but shaved the hole, but his tap-in for par forced the play-off.

The top 10 finishers:
272 Brandt Snedeker 69 67 72 64 (Brandt Snedeker won at third play-off hole), Luke Donald (Eng) 67 65 70 70
273 Tommy Gainey 71 67 67 68
274 Ricky Barnes 71 67 67 69, Tim Herron 65 71 71 67
276 Pat Perez 71 67 68 70, Ben Crane 69 66 71 70, Nick O’Hern (Aus) 70 66 72 68
277 Kevin Na 70 68 73 66, Paul Goydos 72 67 70 68, Garrett Willis 64 69 74 70, Scott Verplank 67 70 67 73, Jason Day (Aus) 69 65 71 72