Donald wins Madrid Masters

 

Golf:England’s Luke Donald ended a four-year win drought by securing the Madrid Masters at Real Sociedad Club de Campo where Graeme McDowell closed with a 65 to claim fourth spot.

Donald led from start to finish and closed with a five under 67 for a 21-under 267 total to win by one from playing partner in the final group, Rhys Davies, after the Welshman closed with a 68.

Donald picked up the €250,000 winner's cheque, and more importantly, returned to the winner’s circle in this a Ryder Cup year. He also returns to the world’s top 10.

Seven days after his agony at losing the PGA Championship at Wentworth it was ecstasy for Donald in Madrid.

Level with three to play the 32-year-old hit a 252-yard fairway wood to 12 feet on the long 16th and with his third eagle of the week - “it’s because I’m a big-hitter” he joked - struck the decisive blow to deny Davies.

Davies, already a winner in this his first full season on the European Tour, birdied the hole and still had a chance to force sudden death, but his 20-foot effort on the last was never on the right line.

The victory lifts Donald from 13th to ninth in the world - and to fourth place in the Ryder Cup points race, knocking Pádraig Harrington out of the top nine who will earn automatic spots at the end of August.

His last victory was the Honda Classic in America in March 2006 and his last in Europe came in Switzerland in September 2004.

“The money is secondary,” said Donald. “It’s been a while since I won and to put last week behind me makes me very proud.

“The way I played today means a lot to me. The eagle was huge because Rhys put a lot of pressure on me.

“It’s happiness and relief - definitely some relief.”

McDowell returned an eight birdie haul with just one dropped shot at the third for a final round 65 to finish fourth on 17 under.

Despite a low round the Portrush pro left too many putts out on the course for his chance to get into the mix. However fourth was good enough to pick up a cheque for €75,000.

Peter Lawrie also enjoyed a good final day after a 67 moved the Dubliner up to 13 under and into a tie for sixth. His card showed six birdies in all before an uncharacteristic missed putt from three feet on the final green gave him his only bogey of the day.

Damien McGrane and Paul McGinley both remained static as a pair of 72s left them on seven and six under respectively. Shane Lowry's 69 moved the Offaly golfer alongside McGinley.