Johnson climbs into top 20 as Donald returns to No. 1 in world ranking

Luke Donald at the BMW PGA Championship
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Luke Donald's sixth victory in the last 15 months returned him to the top spot in the world ranking.
By news services

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Monday, May 28, 2012 | 5:59 p.m.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Zach Johnson had already shared celebratory hugs and kisses with his two young sons and talked about his Colonial victory on television. Then caddie Damon Green, prompted by a rules official, asked Johnson if he had properly remarked his ball before his final putt Sunday.


Luke Donald is now in his fourth spell at No. 1 in the past year, and has held the top spot for a total of 46 weeks.



1. Luke Donald


2. Rory McIlroy


3. Lee Westwood


4. Bubba Watson


5. Matt Kuchar


6. Justin Rose


7. Hunter Mahan


8. Jason Dufner


9. Tiger Woods


10. Steve Stricker


''First time it crossed my mind,'' said Johnson, who then began to wonder if he had cost himself a victory.

Johnson had failed to put his ball back on its original mark after moving it out of the line of Jason Dufner's last putt. But even with a two-stroke penalty, Johnson won by one and got to slip on the plaid jacket for his first victory since also winning at Hogan's Alley two years ago.

The penalty was assessed before he signed his scorecard for a 2-over 72. Johnson's 12-under 268 total was enough to edge Dufner, who finally faltered and closed with a 74.

The victory also boosted Johnson into the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking, as he climbed up to No. 17, a gain of 10 spots from his previous perch at No. 27.

Also Sunday, Luke Donald reclaimed the world No. 1 spot from Rory McIroy by virtue of his second straight win at the BMW PGA Championship, the biggest event on the European Tour aside from the British Open. Donald's sixth victory in the last 15 months made him only the third player -- Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie are the others -- to win the European Tour's flagship event two years in a row.

Only a top-eight finish had been required for him to move to No. 1 for the fourth time once McIlroy had missed the cut -- by a shocking eight shots -- on Friday. That meant his latest success was never going to hit the heights of drama of last year, when he dethroned Lee Westwood by beating him in a playoff.

That was the start of Donald's first reign, one that continued until March, but he and McIlroy have now changed places six times since then.

Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie couldn’t beat Donald at Wentworth, but finishing tied for second enabled both of them to match their highest-ever positions in the world rankings as Rose jumped from 10th to sixth and Lawrie from 40th to 29th.

After Donald and McIlroy, No. 3 Lee Westwood, No. 4 Bubba Watson and No. 5 Matt Kuchar all held on to their spots from the previous week. Hunter Mahan slipped down to seventh to make room for Rose in sixth, while Dufner moved up to eighth from his previous spot at No. 14 on the strength of his second-place finish at Colonial. Tiger Woods also dropped from seventh down to ninth place, while Steve Stricker dropped from eighth down to 10th.

The second 10 includes No. 11 Martin Kaymer, No. 12 Phil Mickelson (down from ninth), No. 13 Webb Simpson (down from 12th), No. 14 Louis Oosthuizen (up from 15th), No. 15 Adam Scott (down from 13th), No. 16 Charl Schwartzel, No. 17 Johnson, No. 18 Jason Day (down from 17th), No. 19 Rickie Fowler (up from 20th) and No. 20 Dustin Johnson (down from 19th).

After being so caught up in the emotion of another Colonial title and a victory in honor of Green's late father, Johnson luckily didn't have to worry about regrouping to play more.

''Let's just count it as a hypothetical and move on,'' he said. ''It wouldn't have been easy. ... I had a lot of emotion running and draining through me. I would like to think that I could gather myself and go back out there and perform.''

Not to mention that Johnson hit out of turn on the 18th tee.

''Fortunately, Dufner is forgiving,'' Johnson said.

That was the strange ending to what was essentially a match-play final round, with Johnson taking command after a triple bogey by Dufner at the 414-yard 15th hole created a four-stroke gap. There had already been four holes with two-stroke swings between the two before that.

Dufner's only two PGA Tour victories came in the previous four weeks, a stretch when he also got married.

After winning the previous week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, he was trying to match Ben Hogan, his hero, as the only players to win both PGA Tour events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the same year. Hogan did it in 1946, when the tournaments weren't played in consecutive weeks.

''Zach played better than I did today. ... He was able to grind it out a little better and not make doubles and triples like I did,'' said Dufner, describing his poor play as disappointing. ''He deserves the jacket, and the trophy and the win. But that is definitely one of the weirdest finishes I would think on the PGA Tour that anybody has seen.''