Donald takes aim at world No 1 spot in shotmaker's paradise
Thursday 21 April 2011
Britain has two shots at reclaiming golf's world No 1 crown these next four days. Lee Westwood and Luke Donald may be playing in different hemispheres but their objective is the same – win a tournament and displace Martin Kaymer at the top of the rankings.
But what happens if both prevail? As the Indonesian Masters has far fewer ranking points on offer than The Heritage, Donald, the current No 3, would leapfrog his countryman. That double is not as unlikely a scenario as it may sound, as Westwood is the only member of the world's top 80 teeing it up in Jakarta and Donald "loves" the shotmaker's paradise on the South Carolina island.
In the last two years at Hilton Head the 33-year-old has finished second and third and when this form is put alongside a recent run in which he has finished outside the top 10 only once in his last 10 starts it is little wonder he is a clear favourite with the bookmakers. Donald's fourth place at The Masters two weeks ago merely underlined the rudeness of his health.
Yesterday, Donald finally explained why his celebrations were so exuberant at Augusta. After chipping in on the 18th, he punched the air and waved his visor at the crowd. It was obvious to most that his 10-under total would not be enough, but after watching an approach played from a tricky lie on the edge of a bunker hit the flag and then rebound off the green, Donald was chasing retribution. "It was revenge for my second shot," he told the Associated Press. "I got carried away. It was a fun moment."
In truth, fun had been in scarce supply for Donald as he put on a battling performance which summed up a new gritty attitude honed under the guidance of Dave Alred, the long-time guru of the England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson. Six times Donald bounded back with an immediate birdie after taking a bogey and even his dedicated swing coach since college noticed a change.
"The Masters was the first time I saw the 'Ryder Cup Luke'," said Pat Goss, alluding to the fact his pupil has lost only twice in 11 matches in the biennial dust-up. "He looked like a fighter, ready to go nose-to-nose. He played fearlessly. Every time he made a mistake, he really fought back."
Also in the Heritage field is the world No 5 from Ulster, Graeme McDowell. The Nos 4 and 6, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, are emulating Kaymer in taking a week off.
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