Luke Donald overcame an overnight, three-shot deficit by firing a 5-under 66 to work his way into a four-way playoff, and then was the only player to birdie the tough 18th hole to win the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship and his first title of 2012.
March 4, 2012 – Rory McIlroy becomes the new World No. 1 after winning the Honda Classic, holding off Tiger Woods to win in south Florida.
Luke Donald cleared Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie by four shots to win his second consecutive BMW PGA Championship title.
May 29, 2011 – Luke Donald holds the trophy and holds his finger in the air to show that he’s the new world’s number one golfer at the BMW PGA Championship 2011 – May 29, 2011.
Luke Donald watches his tee shot on the second tee in the Zurich Classic at the TPC Louisiana course in Avondale, La.
April 24, 2011 – Lee Westwood of England watches his tee shot at the 7th hole during the final round of Indonesian Masters at Royale Jakarta GC in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, April 24, 2011. Westwood took over as No. 1 on the World Golf Rankings.
Feb. 27, 2011 – Martin Kamyer of Germany studies his line to the pin from the rough on the 8th green while playing Luke Donald of England during the finals of the Match Play Championship golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in Marana, Ariz.
Oct. 31, 2010 – Lee Westwood of England practices the Tai Chi Sword at a press conference for the HSBC Golf Champions 2010 on the Bund in Shanghai, China, Nov. 2, 2010.
June 12, 2005 – Tiger Woods smiles as he cleans his club on the 6th hole during practice for the 105th U.S. Open Championship at the Pinehurst Resort and CC in Pinehurst, NC Monday, June 13, 2005.
May 22, 2005 – Vijay Singh of Fiji follows through on a tee drive on the Tournament Players Course during the first round of the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas, Thursday, May 12, 2005.
April 10, 2005 – Tiger Woods, right, get the Green Jacket from Phil Mickelson, left, last years Masters champion, after Woods won the 2005 Masters in a playoff at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 10, 2005.
March 20, 2005 – Vijay Singh of Fiji reacts after teeing off on the first hole in the final round of the Bay Hill Invitational Sunday, March 20, 2005, in Orlando, Fla.
March 6, 2005 – Tiger Woods pumps is fist on the 17th green during the final round at Ford Championship at Doral Sunday, March 6, 2005.
Sept. 6, 2004 – Vijay Singh smiles at Tiger Woods as they shake hands on the 18th green after Singh won the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. Monday, Sept. 6, 2004 by three strokes over Tiger Woods and Adam Scott. Singh won a head-to-head matchup with Woods to end his record reign atop golf’s ultimate leaderboard. Singh shot a 69 clinching the No. 1 ranking in the world with his sixth victory of the year. Woods had been first for more than five years – a record 264 consecutive weeks.
Aug. 15, 1999 – Tiger Woods celebrates after winning the 81st PGA Championship at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., on Sunday, Aug. 15, 1999. Woods would claim the world’s No. 1 golfer ranking and hold it for 264 consecutive weeks.
Aug. 8, 1999 – David Duval follows his tee shot on the third hole of his 18-hole match against Tiger Woods at Sherwood CC in Thousand Oaks , Calif., Monday, Aug. 2, 1999. The $1.5 million “Showdown at Sherwood,” a one-round, match-play duel between the world’s two highest-ranked golfers, is the first golf event televised live in prime time by a network.
July 4, 1999 – Tiger Woods takes a large clump of grass as he chips onto the 12th green during the first round of the 128th Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland, Thursday, July 15, 1999.
March 28, 1999 – David Duval holds the winning trophy and gives a thumbs up after winning The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., on Sunday, March 28, 1999. Duval closed with a 1-over 73 to finish at 285, the highest winning score in the Players since it moved to the TPC at Sawgrass in 1982.
June 14, 1998 – Tiger Woods talks with his caddie, Mike “Fluff” Cowan, before teeing off on No. 2 during the final round of the PGA Championship at the Sahalee CCin Redmond, Wash., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 1998.
May 17/April 12, 1998 – South Africa’s Ernie Els watches his shot after teeing off during a practice round for the Match Play Championship at Wentworth GC, England Tuesday, October 13, 1998.
May 10, 1998 – Tiger Woods hits from the fairway on the 2nd hole during the final round of the BellSouth Classic in Duluth, Ga., Sunday, May 10, 1998. Woods, who had not won a tournament in the last ten months, shot a 72 to beat Jay Don Blake by one stroke.
Jan. 11, 1998 – Tiger Woods, center foreground, is surrounded by security as he walks to the first green followed by hundreds of fans during an exhibition game with three other golfers from Asia at the Mimosa Golf and CC at the former U.S. Air Force Base of Clark, 50 miles northwest of Manila, Sunday January 18, 1998. Woods, here for the first time, carded a 71, one under par to win by three strokes against his Filipino rival Felix Casas.
Sept. 7, 1997 – Greg Norman lines up his shot from under a tree during second round Bell Canadian Open Friday, Sept. 5, 1997 in Montreal. Norman finished at two-under par.
July 6, 1997 – Twenty-one-year-old Tiger Woods enjoys a laugh with his mother, Kultida, after winning the Western Open at Cog Hill Golf & CC in Lemont, Ill., Sunday, July 6, 1997. Woods is the second-youngest person in the history of pro golf to reach six victories. Horton Smith, who played in the 1920s, had seven before he turned 21.
June 29, 1997 – Greg Norman celebrates his birdie putt on the 18th hole to win the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., on Sunday, June 29, 1997. Norman finished with a 16-under-par 268, one stroke ahead of Dudley Hart.
June 22, 1997 – Ernie Els of Fancourt, South Africa, kisses the trophy after winning the Buick Classic at Westchester CC in Harrison, N.Y. Sunday, June 22, 1997. Els, who finished at 16-under-par 268, tied the tournament record.
June 15, 1997 – Tiger Woods helps a youngster participating in the Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Golf Clinic Monday, June 16, 1997, on Randall’s Island in New York. Thirty of the most talented young golfers from among several hundred had the opportunity to be personally coached by Woods. They were chosen by the National Minority Golf Association and represent 25 community organizations from the New York area.
April 27, 1997 – Greg Norman blasts the ball out of the bunker during the final round of the Spanish Open in Madrid’s La Moraleja course Sunday April 27, 1997. Norman finished second behind England’s Mark James.
April 20, 1997 – Tom Lehman hits from the twelfth fairway during the final round of the U.S. Open Sunday, June 15, 1997, at the Congressional CC in Bethesda, Md.
June 18, 1995 – Greg Norman poses with the winners trophy after it was presented to him for winning the Greater Hartford Open at the Tournament Players Club golf course in Cromwell, Conn., Sunday, June 25, 1995. Norman won the tournament with a 13-under-par 267 for the four rounds.
Aug. 14, 1994 – South African Nick Price tees off during a practice round for Friday’s Presidents Cup, at the Robert Trent Jose Golf Club in Gainesville, VA., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 1994. Price will lead an international team against a U.S. Team in the match play tournament.
Feb. 6, 1994 – Greg Norman of Australia holds up his trophy after winning the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Sunday, March 27, 1994. He won with a record breaking 24-under-par.
July 19/March 29, 1992 – Britain’s Nick Faldo kisses the British Open championship trophy he won at Muirfield in Scotland, July 19, 1992.
April 5/March 22, 1992 – Fred Couples gives the thumbs up after getting his green jacket Sunday, April 12, 1992 after winning the 1992 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Couples won his first at a major with a score of 13-under-par.
April 7, 1991 – Ian Woosnam from Wales, reacts to his putt for par on the 18th green, to win the 1991 Masters, at the Augusta National GC, on April 14, 1991.
Feb. 3, 1991 – Britian’s Nick Faldo swings to blast off from the seventh tee over the sand dunes and scrub on the Royal Birkdale course, Southport, England Wednesday, July 17, 1991. Faldo was preparing for defending his Open title on the course Thursday when this year’s competition starts.
Oct. 14, 1990 – Greg Norman chips from the rough on the 8th green during the first round of the Doral-Ryder Open in Miami, Fla., Thursday, March 1, 1990.
Sept. 2, 1990 – Nick Faldo teeing off at the U.S. Open in Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois on June 15, 1990.
Aug. 20, 1989 – Australia’s Greg Norman contemplates his putt during opening round of Four Tours World Championship of Golf at the Yomiuri Country Club Course, west of Tokyo, Nov. 2, 1989 in Inagi, Japan. Norman, as the captain of the Australia-New Zealand team in the team competition among four PGA Tours from the U.S., Europe, Australia-New Zealand and Japan, scored 68, helping his team beat Japan. His caddie Bruce Edwards looks on.
April 2, 1989 – Seve Ballesteros, of Spain, reacts after chipping into the hole on the second hole during final round play of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 9, 1989. Ballesteros’ charge put him as one of the early leaders.
March 26, 1989 – Greg Norman watches his shot during practice for the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia on Monday, April 4, 1989.
Nov. 6, 1988 – Greg Norman hands his club to his caddy on number two green after he made birdie during final round of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club, April 10, 1988.
Nov. 29, 1987 – Watched by an attentive audience, defending Open Champion Greg Norman, tees off during a practice round , before the start of the Open Golf Championships, at Muirfield, Scotland, on July 15, 1987.
Nov. 22, 1987 – Severiano Ballesteros waits to tee off during play in the third round of the Open Golf Championship, at Muirfield, Scotland, on July 18, 1987.
Sept. 14, 1986 – Greg Norman keeps his eye on the ball after his shot from number 5 tee during third round play of the Masters Tournament at Augusta, Ga., April 11, 1987.
April 27, 1986 – Severiano Ballesteros in play around 1987.
April 6, 1986 – Bernhard Langer, right, last year’s Masters champion, and Arnold Palmer, left, a four-time winner, chat as they played in a practice round at the Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday, April 9, 1986.
Donald also vaults back to No. 1 in the world with the win and has momentum heading to the Masters in two weeks.
Here are 5 Things to take away from the week at Innisbrook:
1. BACK TO NO. 1: After only two weeks at No. 2, Donald has moved back to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings with the win at Innisbrook.
Donald held down the No. 1 ranking for 40 weeks in 2011-12.
Donald started the season sluggishly, finishing T-56 at the Northern Trust Open and then being bounced in the first round at the WGC-Match Play Championship by Ernie Els.
But he showed life last week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship with a T-6 finish.
Considered to the best putter on Tour, Donald was tops in the field in strokes gained putting at 2.594, sixth in putts per round (26.8) and sixth in putts per green in regulation (1.646).
While not a bomber off the tee, he was T-9 in driving accuracy at 73.1 percent, playing to Donald’s strength of keeping it in play and not making mistakes.
2. NOT SO EASY: Ernie Els had lamented to our Alex Miceli that he wasn’t happy with his putter on Saturday. On Sunday, the flatstick cost him a chance at his first title since the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Els finished bogey-bogey on Sunday to drop from holding a one-shot lead to out of the eventual playoff. Els missed a three-foot par putt on the 18th that sent him to an awkward post-round interview on NBC Sports.
The Big Easy beat himself up after the round.
“It’s going to be tough (to take away any positives),” said Els, who fired a 4-under 67 on Sunday. “I’m pretty hot now, and it’s difficult to talk with a straight head here. Yeah, if I take stock, I think I’m playing good golf, and I’ve got to head into the next couple of weeks trying to get a win.”
While many will remember the missed putt, Els took notice of pulling his approach shot past the hole and into the rough. Els had actually played the tough 18th hole at 1 under until Sunday.
“It’s a difficult green,” said Els. “You know, I pulled my second left . . . and chipped it up to three or four feet. You know, I was trying to just jam it in there and I pulled it.”
Els is still fighting for a spot in next month’s Masters, and will need a high finish or win at Bay Hill to secure that spot.
3. MAKING AN IMPRESSION: Sang-Moon Bae played chicken with the top of the leaderboard all weekend, ultimately firing a 3-under 68 in the final round to work his way into the playoff. But he did it differently on Sunday, using consistency and pars to stay in contention.
On Saturday, Bae needed seven birdies to secure a 3-under 68. He only needed four on Sunday.
He was first in the field with 21 birdies over the four days, while also topping the field in putts per round at 25.8.
The putts were important after hitting only 62.5 percent of his greens in regulation, with was T-59 for the week.
Playing at Innisbrook reminded Bae of playing on the Japan Tour.
“This course like a little Japan Tour course,” said Bae, who has four top-30 finishes this season. “(There are) many tree lines, so (it is) very comfortable for me. So this week, it (was) better.”
4. WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES: A day after setting the course on fire and grabbing part of the lead with Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen started the day with a double-bogey at the par-5 first, a bogey at No. 2 and another bogey at the par-5 fifth hole. He finished the day with a pair of bogeys and closed with a 4-over 75 and a T-20 finish.
Goosen is also looking for a spot in the Masters, and likely will not get it, as he has pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational to have treatment on his back. But he refused to use the injury as an excuse on Sunday.
“It was the same as yesterday, my back,” said Goosen, a two-time champion at Transitions. “Yesterday, I hit a lot of bad shots and got a way with it and today I didn’t. So I won’t say that the back was any different to yesterday. It’s just a lot of shots going right.
“Played like a dog, simple as that. I could have done better than that, working with the issue on my back, but I wouldn’t say my back was any worse.”
5. UNLUCKY 13: Charlie Wi became the second PGA Tour player to pick up an octuple-bogey in the past two weeks, with Wi carding a 13 at the par-5 fifth hole at Innisbrook. Sergio Garcia had a 12 at Doral.
Just how does one make a 13? Wi had three shots carom off a tree, all of them falling onto the practice range behind him. His woes started on the tee, driving it into the right rough. There was a wood chip next to his ball and it caused the ball to come off his 6-iron to the right and into the trees. Trying to play it just over a tree trunk with his next shot, the ball hit the trunk and bounded back into the practice range.
“It was right next to the range. The range just stopped,” Wi said. “Everybody was looking at me.”
Kevin Na had a 16 in San Antonio last year, and Wi remembered it well.
“I should have beat him,” Wi said. “The problem was, we only had six balls, and I hit three of them on the range. I said, ‘Man, we might run out of balls.'”