Saturday 18 November 2017

Donald closes in on top spot

Mark Garrod in Estepona

Luke Donald will have another chance to go to world No 1 for the first time today -- but he will have to beat Martin Kaymer again to keep that hope alive. With Lee Westwood losing to Ian Poulter, either Donald or Kaymer will take over at the top of the rankings if they lift the Volvo World Match Play title at Finca Cortesin in Spain. Whoever triumphs will then have to take on Poulter or Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts for the first prize of €800,000.

Donald was relieved to come through at the first extra hole against Swede Johan Edfors -- he had been two down with three to play -- and then in the quarter-finals beat Masters champion Charl Schwartzel on the last. "I escaped this morning," he said, "but then I played a lot better and made it hard for Charl." He was round in a six-under-par 66 to win by two holes.

Kaymer defeated Dane Soren Kjeldsen 3&2, then Spain's Alvaro Quiros by two holes to continue a superb week which began with him dispensing with the services of Scottish caddie Craig Connelly.

Colsaerts, seeded 21st of the 24 players in the field, is the surprise package, but it was only a month ago that he had his first European Tour win in China.

He beat US Open champion Graeme McDowell in the quarter-finals after McDowell had first got the better of his all-Irish clash with Rory McIlroy 3&2. McIlroy decided not to say much to McDowell during their game, but quickly discovered that his close friend and Ryder Cup partner appeared to have decided the same thing.

McDowell found out the 22-year-old was not in a generous mood either over some short putts, but it was McIlroy who struggled on the greens. He three-putted the first and eighth, and after falling four down at the 11th flung his putter away, then on the next green kicked his ball into a bush when he missed a chance to narrow the gap.

Birdies did come on the 13th and 14th, but McDowell finished him off after holing from the fringe two holes later -- again from further away than McIlroy. "I missed five chances in the middle that really cost me -- I was getting very frustrated," said McIlroy. "When you are going against someone of that calibre you need to take your chances."

As for throwing his putter and kicking his ball away he said, "It gives you a kick up the a**e and tells you to go."

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