It was billed as ‘The Duel on the West’, with Luke Donald’s title expected to come under fierce challenge from the numbers one and three in the world, Rory McIlroy (NIR) and Lee Westwood (ENG), but the 2012 BMW PGA Championship ended with a rampant Donald winning by four clear shots and recapturing the number one spot at the top of the world rankings.
For Donald, this was a very different final day to the dramatic scenes he experienced at the end of the 2011 tournament, when he defeated Westwood in a play-off. This year, he cut a far more relaxed figure as he strode down the 18th with a comfortable four-shot lead. The new number one in the world was cheered onto the green by the huge galleries that have become a feature of the European Tour’s flagship event in recent years.
The final couple of holes may have looked like a stroll in the park, but that was the result of the golfing master class that Donald delivered over the four days of the tournament. When the strong winds left the dreams of many lying tattered and torn on the iconic West Course on day three, Donald showed all his class to grind out a magnificent round of 69 and move two clear. Only his good friend Rose was able to keep pace with Donald, setting up the enticing prospect of an all-English final flight on the decisive Sunday.
When Rose birdied three and four to move level with the reigning champion, it looked like being another dramatic evening in Surrey, England. Donald responded like a true champion, however, shooting four birdies to Rose’s one over the next eight holes. With all this going on in the top flight, Paul Lawrie (-11) of Scotland almost sneaked in under the radar. The 1999 Open Champion shot the lowest round of the day, a six-under round of 66, to claim a share of second place with Rose. Fourth place went to Ireland’s Peter Lawrie (-8), who could hardly hide his delight at holing his bunker shot for a birdie on the last, while Branden Grace (RSA, -7) finished fifth.
The chasing pack were left hoping for a major blunder from the man who topped last year’s money lists on both sides of the Atlantic. But it never came. Donald rained down perfect iron shot after perfect iron shot to emerge from the Wentworth Club a thoroughly deserved winner – for the second year.