Donald lost in dust of Woods' victory march

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The Independent Online

Luke Donald last night discovered the same truth as the 11 unfortunates before him who had dared to try overhauling Tiger Woods on the last day of a major. The world No 1 does not lose leads. Rivals, yes. Leads, no.

It was a harsh lesson for the young Englishman who set out with Woods at 14-under but ended up on the receiving end of a six-stroke humbling. In the event, Donald could not even hang on to second, as Shaun Micheel got within five of the winner's 18-under total, leaving the 28-year-old in a tie for third after a 74 that was in a different county to good enough.

After compiling 16 birdies in the first three rounds, yesterday there were none and although Donald will look back on this as a learning experience, it will hurt like hell every time he does so. The consolation is, of course, that he was cut down by a genius who now appears as dominant as he ever has and one who is halfway towards a second Grand Slam.

As ever with a Woods major victory, it was necessary to open the record books and start rewriting. At 12, he is now in outright second on the all-time major list, leaving Walter Hagen in his wake in the chase for that other immortal, Jack Nicklaus, on 18. The 30-year-old is also 12 and zero ­ as they like to say over here ­ for converting major leads he has held or shared after 54 holes.

That incredible run never looked like ending at Medinah. An eight-foot putt on the first, a two-putt formality on the par-five fifth and a 40-footer on the sixth hole took him to 17-under and far away.

Meanwhile, Donald had seen his ball shave the cup on each of the opening three holes and the frustration intensified when he notched up his first bogey in 40 holes on the fourth after finding the thick rough just to the left of the green. Donald had a chance to get back to level par for the day on the fifth, but his four-footer agonisingly lipped out.

He was four back and his experience was proving just as humiliating as the first time he played with Woods. "I was struggling in the 2003 Open and I didn't play very well," he remembered before venturing out there. "I almost didn't want people looking at me." The same must have applied here, especially as Chicago has been home now for nine years. In truth, though, by the turn nobody was looking at him. They only had eyes for Tiger and his latest feat.

This procession made Hoylake four weeks ago seem like a veritable stampede as a 45-footer on the eighth and a 10-footer on the 11th pulled him five ahead. And even when he did look like making a bogey he always managed to find an escape route to par, on the 13th for instance where he found a snotty position in the sand at the back of the green with the water perilously positioned behind the flag at the front.

No matter; a nerveless flick and the ball was next to the pin. There was some pressure on him, too, as he tried to become the first player in history to finish at 20-under. Tiger looked genuinely disappointed when his only bogey in his 68 meant he had "failed" to. His opponents really did not know whether to bow or cry.

Instead they just concentrated on the race for second and Micheel's gutsy 69 went some way to proving that his 2003 USPGA triumph was not a total fluke. That left Donald sharing the minor money with another European in Sergio Garcia and the fast-finishing Australian, Adam Scott, but at least he has all but secured his automatic Ryder Cup berth and so spared Ian Woosnam from "wasting" one of his two captain's selections.

There was another huge consolation for the European captain; namely, the American team. Tom Lehman will pick his wildcards this morning, but he will hardly pluck them out of the pack with any conviction. The American captain was relying on a Davis Love, a Stewart Cink, a Fred Couples or a Scott Verplank to finish high enough in this final qualifying event to rid him from a few of the unknowns which litter his ranks.

Alas, all failed to make the top 10, so Lehman will have to phone up Zach Johnson, Vaughn Taylor, JJ Henry and Brett Wetterich and tell them they are in and assure them they are world-beaters despite three of them (Henry excluded) woefully missing this cut. That cannot have been any surprise for Wetterich, as he has yet to make a major cut in his 12-year career, and so becomes the first Ryder Cup player with such a void on his CV.

To counter this quartet of inexperience, Lehman will probably side with Love and Cink today, although Woosnam will hardly be quaking in his spikes at those two.

Tiger, in contrast, made the whole golfing world shake here last night.

Scores from USPGA Championship at Medinah

US unless stated

FINAL-ROUND SCORES

270 T Woods 69 68 65 68

275 S Micheel 69 70 67 69

276 A Scott (Aus) 71 69 69 67, S Garcia (Sp) 69 70 67 70, L Donald (GB) 68 68 66 74

277 M Weir (Can) 72 67 65 73

278 S Stricker 72 67 70 69, KJ Choi (S Kor) 73 67 67 71

279 R Moore 71 72 67 69, I Poulter (GB) 70 70 68 71, G Ogilvy (Aus) 69 68 68 74

280 S O'Hair 72 70 70 68, C DiMarco 71 70 67 72

281 H Stenson (Swe) 68 68 73 72, T Herron 69 67 72 73, P Mickelson 69 71 68 74

282 E Els (SA) 71 70 72 69, D Toms 71 67 71 73, W Austin 71 69 69 73

283 J Byrd 69 72 74 68, R Allenby (Aus) 68 74 71 70, F Funk 69 69 74 71, H Frazar 69 72 69 73

284 C Campbell 71 72 75 66, S Cink 68 74 73 69, T Clark (SA) 70 69 75 70, A Hansen (Den) 72 71 70 71, S Flesch 72 71 69 72

285 D Wilson 74 70 74 67, H Slocum 73 70 72 70, R Karlsson (Swe) 71 73 69 72, L Westwood 69 72 71 73, J Furyk 70 72 69 74

286 T Immelman (SA) 73 71 70 72, D Love 68 69 73 76, R Goosen (SA) 70 73 68 75

287 R Green (Aus) 73 69 73 72, G McDowell (GB) 75 68 72 72, B Mayfair 69 69 73 76, JB Holmes 71 70 68 78

288 D Chopra (Swe) 72 67 76 73, B Andrade 67 69 78 74, JJ Henry 68 73 73 74, J Rose (GB) 73 70 70 75, C Riley 66 72 73 77

289 L Glover 66 74 77 72, O Browne 75 66 73 75

290 J Kelly 70 74 74 72

291 J Sindelar 74 70 73 74, N Green (Aus) 71 71 74 75, R Beem 75 69 72 75, C Pavin 72 71 72 76, R Palmer 70 73 72 76, K Perry 72 71 71 77

292 S Appleby (Aus) 70 73 79 70, H Tanihara (Japan) 73 71 78 70, A Baddeley (Aus) 70 74 75 73, S Ames (Can) 74 69 74 75, J M Olazabal (Sp) 72 68 75 77

293 S Lowery 70 72 76 75, B Curtis 72 72 73 76

295 J Maggert 75 68 78 74, C Warren 73 70 77 75, J Gore 70 73 75 77

296 B Tway 72 71 75 78, M A Jimenez (Sp) 70 73 75 78

297 D Howell (GB) 71 71 73 82

300 D Yrene 71 72 77 80, J Haas 75 68 74 83

301 J Kane 71 71 80 79

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