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Donald so good he never sees No. 18

Luke Donald tosses his ball into the gallery after defeating Martin Kaymer in the Match Play Championship final.

Associated Press

Luke Donald tosses his ball into the gallery after defeating Martin Kaymer in the Match Play Championship final.

MARANA, Ariz. — Luke Donald had only two wins in the past five years, so not many would have given him a snowball's chance in Arizona of winning the Match Play Championship.

Turns out be he was more unbeatable than anyone in the tournament's 13-year history.

When he polished off Martin Kaymer on the 16th hole Sunday, Donald became the first player to go an entire week without trailing in any match. He played only 89 holes in six matches, another record, and led after 81 of them. And he became the first player to win any tournament without ever playing the 18th hole.

All that mattered to Donald was simply winning.

"To come here and beat the top 63 players in the world is very gratifying," Donald said after his 3-and-2 victory. "It's been an amazing week."

On a bizarre day in the high desert, which began with snow covering the fairways and featured a 10-minute delay when sleet coated the fourth fairway, Donald spoiled Kaymer's rise to No. 1 in the world.

It had been five years since Donald won on American soil. A year ago, he had 10 finishes in the top three with only one trophy to show for it, against a weak field at the Madrid Masters. But with a flawless short game, Donald picked up his first World Golf Championship and moved to a career-best No. 3 in the world in this week's ratings.

The consolation prize for Kaymer was going to No. 1, assured when he reached the final.

"It was a very good week for me," he said. "Of course, I was hoping to win (Sunday). I was trying everything I could. I just didn't play as good as the last few days. And the way Luke plays, even a decent round isn't enough."

The match was all square when Donald made an up-and-down from the waste area short of the 10th green to avoid falling behind. He won the next two holes, and Kaymer couldn't catch him.

Matt Kuchar defeated Bubba Watson in the consolation match and will go to No. 10 in the world.

A late winter storm dusted Dove Mountain with nearly an inch of snow in the morning. Donald looked out his hotel room and suggested on Twitter that a snowball fight determine who had honors on the first tee.

"It was definitely a shock," Donald said.

The snow had melted when they teed off, though dark clouds loomed. Sleet began falling when the final reached the third green, and play was stopped when sleet covered the fourth fairway.

PGA: Johnson Wagner won the Mayakoba Golf Classic for his second PGA Tour title, beating Spencer Levin with a par on the first hole of a playoff. Wagner closed with 4-under 67 to match Levin (65) at 17-under 267 on the El Camaleon course.

LPGA: Australia's Karrie Webb used four straight birdies on the back nine to surge past Japan's Chie Arimura for a one-shot victory at the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. Webb, 36, finished with 3-under 69 for 275 total and her 37th career LPGA win. "I'm one ahead of my age," she said. "I kicked it in on the back nine." Webb trailed Arimura by three after a bogey on the 10th but started her string of birdies on No. 11. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (73) finished at par 288 and Tampa's Kristy McPherson (70) was at 295.

Donald so good he never sees No. 18 02/27/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 27, 2011 10:26pm]
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