Snedeker wins Heritage, denies Donald top spot

Luke Donald lost this latest chance at No. 1, but he is

confident he will get another opportunity.

Donald fell in a three-hole playoff at The Heritage after Brandt

Snedeker closed with a surprising 7-under 64. The 33-year-old

Donald could have jumped up from No. 3, surpassing previously

top-ranked Martin Kaymer and fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup

partner, Lee Westwood, at No. 2. Instead, Westwood takes over the

top spot after winning the Indonesian Masters earlier Sunday.

”To be No. 1 would’ve been great, but it’s not everything,”

Donald said. ”It certainly would be a tick in the box and it would

be something great to talk to the grandkids in 30 years time and

say that you were the best in the world, but I still have a lot of

chances to do that.”

Donald appeared on his way to the top after back-to-back birdies

on the fourth and fifth holes pushed him to 13-under par and alone

in front. But bogeys on the seventh and 10th holes dropped him back

and he couldn’t get back to that level the rest of the round.

It took stellar par saves on the 71st and 72nd holes simply to

remain tied with Snedeker and force the playoff. The pair matched

birdies and pars on the first two extra holes, and Snedeker secured

the win with a two-putt par when Donald could not save par one last

time from a bunker in front of the closing lighthouse hole, No.

18.

Snedeker, who played Donald at college level, has deep respect

for the Match Play Championship winner’s ability. When it ended,

Snedeker counseled Donald to keep his chin up.

”I just told him he’s going to be No. 1. Sorry it didn’t go the

right way for him,” Snedeker said. ”He’s that kind of

player.”

Donald couldn’t match Snedeker when it counted most at Harbour

Town Golf Links. Donald played the first 36 holes in 10 under to

take the lead. He closed 70-70, giving Snedeker the opening.

Snedeker survived against one of the world’s best in a gritty

three-hole playoff for his second career PGA Tour win and first

since the 2007 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina,

during his rookie season.

”It’s a storybook ending really, to be playing Luke in a

playoff, to even have a chance to win was exciting to me,” he

said.

Donald lost after blasting out about 15 feet from the flag on

the 18th and his chip for par from just off the green hit the back

edge of the cup and bounced away.

Tommy Gainey finished a stroke back in third after a 68.

Donald was the steadiest player most of the week at Harbour

Town. He caught Snedeker with a birdie on No. 13, then parred his

way in for the playoff.

”It was going to be some big rewards if I won today,” Donald

said. ”But I’ll try and find the positives from this week and move

on.”

At least Donald leaves No. 1 at something, making $615,000 to

top the PGA Tour money list.

Snedeker earned $1,026,000. The biggest question facing Snedeker

now is whether he’ll be back to defend his title.

The Heritage is without a title sponsor, something PGA Tour and

event leaders say is essential for its return in 2012. There was

talk all week of a Sunday surprise, an announcement of a backer to

give assurances to pros. None was forthcoming, though, and

tournament director Steve Wilmot said ”the sponsorship search

continues in earnest.”

Gainey, bidding to become the first South Carolina native to win

the state’s PGA Tour event, missed a 15-foot birdie putt on his

final hole that would’ve put him in the playoff.

”I would have loved to have won,” said Gainey, who gained fame

as ”Two Gloves” on Golf Channel’s ”Big Break” series. ”I think

it’s the second-best tournament on tour” behind the Masters.

Defending champion Jim Furyk finished with his highest score,

76, in his past 33 rounds at Harbour Town to fall from

contention.

”I just kind of got on a bad roll and it snowballed on me

today,” he said.