Donald captures Transitions championship

Parker Fox, Sports Editor

Last week at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook, Englishman Luke Donald won the PGA Tour event and the $995,000 that comes with it.

Heading into Sunday, Donald was three strokes back from the leader Retief Goosen and needed to make up some ground.  He shot a five under 66 to post a four round total of 13 under par.  That was enough to earn a spot in a playoff with Robert Garrigus, Sang-Moon Bae, and Jim Furyk.  On the playoff hole (number 18, par 4), Donald was easily the shortest in the group off the tee, leaving him just over 150 yards, uphill in the rough.  Donald flushed a 7 iron just over the bunker from the difficult lie and the ball nestled up to about six feet.  Furyk, also with an awkward lie, hit the green on his second but was on the wrong side of the large ridge that runs through the center of the green.  Bae hit an average shot, also on the wrong side of the ridge but not as bad as Furyk’s.  Garrigus had crushed his tee shot leaving him only a wedge in for his second.  The ball sailed right at the flag and was just one hop from possibly going in for the win before spinning backwards to just outside of Donald’s ball.  After close misses for birdie by Bae and Furyk, Garrigus pulled his short birdie attempt.  That left Donald, one of the best putters in the world, with a short putt to win the tournament.  Donald lipped it in the left side of the cup and with it regained the World Number 1 title.

            “It was so exciting watching Luke down the stretch,” says senior Brandon Jeffries.  “He made so many clutch putts coming down the back 9 and then he was able to finish it off in the playoff.”

            With the win, Donald regained the World Number 1 title from Rory McIlroy who had just taken it three weeks back at the Honda Classic.  Several analysts predicted McIlroy to enjoy a long career as World Number 1 and to hold on to the spot, but Donald was able to regain the position.  Donald finished the week dead last in average driving distance but first in strokes gained through putting.  In addition to a hot flat stick, Donald also showed superior feel around the greens with his short game and unmatched precision with his irons.  Donald will take this week off before driving down Magnolia Lane to the Masters, where he hopes to win his first Major.