Donald out to 'slip past' No 1 rivals

 

Doral

Great Britain and Ireland should rightfully feel on top of the golfing world when the first three players in the rankings tee off here together tomorrow. Who would ever have thought that a 22-year-old from Ulster would be the No 1 and that his nearest pursuers would be two thirtysomethings from England? Or that everyone would be feeling positive about Tiger Woods, down there at No 16?

The world has been turned on its head this last few years, but now Rory McIlroy is out to plonk it back on its feet and keep it stable. To do so he must first ensure he doesn't suffer the ignominy of having the shortest reign of any world No 1. Depending on how he performs at this WGC Cadillac Championship, Luke Donald could claim back his throne simply by finishing in the top two. Lee Westwood, the world No 3, could also rescale the summit if he wins.

By any token, there is much to play for over "the Blue Monster". "It'll be a fun threeball," said Donald. "It might work to my advantage. There was a lot of energy in the semi-final between Rory and Lee in the Match Play [two weeks ago]. Maybe they will focus on each other again and I can slip away and make some birdies without them noticing."

Everyone is noticing McIlroy. It had been some 48 hours for him when he arrived here yesterday. On Sunday in Palm Beach, McIlroy held off the final-round charge of Tiger Woods to win the Honda Classic and so usurp Donald. And then on Monday in New York he took a point off Maria Sharapova when invited on court at an exhibition tennis match involving his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki. If the latter was not expected, the former most definitely was.

"Rory has had a tremendous run," said Donald, thinking back over 11 events in which McIlroy has been out of the top five only once. "He's been extremely consistent and, obviously, the win last week was very impressive. You can compare what Rory is starting to do with what Tiger did at a very young age. Rory still has a way to go. But we all know Rory has a huge amount of talent. And he's starting to win more now, too.

Donald was at a playground with his two daughters when he heard he had been deposed. However, the toys did not come out of the pram. "He's playing great and I've been struggling," he said. "At least I now have a position from which I can improve. It's hard to go very far when you're No 1. I feel like I'm progressing. I just need to take it from the range on to the course."

Despite the Honda Classic taking place near his home in Palm Beach, Donald chose not to play. "It was purely a scheduling decision," he said, explaining the fatigue he feels when playing four tournaments on the spin. Instead, he worked on his short game at The Bear's Club. "I've spent a decent amount of time working on some improvements in my swing and I didn't put the same intensity and effort into my short game," he said. "With me my golf always starts from the hole backwards. I feel a bit more solid with my putting, chipping and bunker play now."

An on-song Donald would be an ominous rival for McIlroy, but then, so too would Westwood. The 38-year-old's 63 to finish fourth on Sunday was largely overlooked in all the talk of Rory and Tiger. What most people do not realise is that Westwood was not 100 per cent at the weekend because of a bout of food poisoning. Westwood is now recovered and because of his and McIlroy's spiky relationship, would like nothing better to be crowned at the youngster's expense.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible