Luke Donald: Targeting Westwood's crown in all-English affair

In-form World No 2 is aiming to overtake his countryman this week in a format he enjoys. James Corrigan reports from the Costa del Sol

Luke Donald says he hopes England are proud. His country should be. By rights, they should be out in force on the Costa del Sol watching their two boys fight it out for the world No 1 spot. Sombreros on, straw donkeys at the ready, we're all off to sunny Spain...

Except golf isn't like that and at this dramatic Finca Cortesin course, cut out of the side of a mountain, the pair will take centre stage at the Volvo Match Play Championship in a polite rather than raucous atmosphere. The contest will bristle, however, as for the first time in the 25-year history of the rankings, England boasts the top two in the world order.

Of course, there are 22 other professionals battling it out for the £3m-plus prize fund, which outside of The Open Championship is the biggest purse in Europe. Indeed, with only Phil Mickelson missing, this event has more of the world's top six in attendance than last week's "fifth major" at Sawgrass. But with Westwood having won his last two tournaments and with Donald having finished fourth at The Players on Sunday making it 12 top 10 finishes from his last 13, the prospective protagonists are obvious. As the world No 3, Martin Kaymer, confirmed yesterday.

"The perfect golf player at the moment would have the long game of Lee Westwood and the short game of Luke Donald," said the German.

A little later, when told about Kaymer's comments, Donald said: "I don't know about that, I'm hitting it pretty good off the tee right now." The 33-year-old was joking. "Yeah, Lee has excelled in his long game," he added. "He's extremely solid. And I've had to be good with my short game in recent years as my long game wasn't where it needed to be. So me and Lee would be a good combination. We kind of showed that in the Ryder Cup."

Tiger Woods could testify to that; he and Steve Stricker being on the end of a 6&5 foursomes embarrassment at Celtic Manor. They were not the first to feel the force of Donald's match-play excellence and Tucson confirmed in February they were certainly not the last. At the other World Match Play, Donald was supremely impressive en route to accounting for Kaymer in the final. On the back of a startling Walker Cup and Ryder Cup record (losing just three out of 19 matches), to many the WGC crown established Donald as the game's premier component of the head-to-head format. On that basis, what a chance he has here of replacing Westwood as No 1.

"My record in match play speaks for itself," said Donald. "I like the challenge of one-against-one and like the fact you can be a little bit more aggressive. I have a lot of confidence."

That is hardly surprising given his staggering run. "The fact I'm grinding out these top 10s week-in, week-out means I'm getting to the point where I kind of expect to keep doing it," he said. "It's a good place to be. But I'll be the first to say that over the last six months I should have turned one or two of those top 10s into wins. Yet if you don't give yourself any chances you're not going to have any chance."

It is hard to argue with that logic. What did baffle yesterday was the decision of Kaymer to dispense with the services of his Scottish caddie, Craig Connelly. In less than a year the pair have won four times, including a major and the Order of Merit, amassed more than £5m in the process – and become world No 1.

"We had a fantastic year together," said Kaymer. So why inform Connelly he was no longer required immediately after The Players, with a two-week stretch looming in Europe? However Kaymer tried to couch it in "mutual consent" terminology the scenario begged to differ, as, of course, does the fact that no caddie worthy of his 10 per cent would not want to work with a cash-machine such as the 26-year-old.

Bizarrely, Connelly actually flew over from Florida on the same private charter as Kaymer on Sunday night – and yesterday morning flew from Spain to Scotland. So instead, in a week where he could also usurp Westwood, Kaymer will have his younger brother, Philip, on his bag. After that? "We will see what happens at Wentworth next week; if I can find somebody. But if not, I'm sure I'll find someone by the US Open," he said.

The queue of candidates will be lengthy, although maybe as Kaymer tinkers with his swing and his form flattens out the focus should be on the two golfers ranked above him. England's finest no less. "Europe is enjoying a great period, very similar to the generation back in the Nineties," said Donald. "It's a great time, particularly for English golf, with the world Nos 1 and 2. I hope England is proud."

They are, Luke. Just not quite proud enough to empty Torremolinos.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport