February 15, 2012
Donald has 'major' ambition
By TIM McKAY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Remember Luke Donald?
The most unassuming No. 1 in golf in recent times tees it up Thursday at Riviera for the Northern Trust Open, and it’s hard to imagine he can repeat the season he had last year, winning both the PGA and European tour money titles.
With the seeming resurgence of golf’s big boys — Tiger Woods is getting into contention and Phil Mickelson served notice last week that he’s not done yet — the cards look stacked against Donald, but he has shown he can step up when need be (see last year’s victory at Disney in a shootout with Webb Simpson for the money title).
The only thing missing from Donald’s resume is a major championship. He’s likely sick of answering questions about it but his response this week was the best I have heard:
“I’d love to win a major. Don’t get me wrong,” he told PGATour.com. “I believe my golf right now is good enough to win a major. I don’t think it’s lacking anything ... for whatever reason, it hasn’t quite happened.
“But at the same time I think there have been a lot of guys who have won one major that I wouldn’t swap my career for.”
EYE OF THE TIGER
Woods seems serious about his comeback.
After spewing over the past couple years about just needing more competitive rounds, Woods finally looks ready to commit to just that.
A boon to any tournament he plays in — see ratings for Abu Dhabi and Pebble Beach, his two events this season, where he was in contention for both — Woods has decided to add the Honda Classic to his schedule in the run-up to the Masters.
It will be the first time Woods has played the event as a pro and it will be a strong field, which will include world Nos. 2 and 3 Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
Woods will play three events in a row, beginning next week with the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship and ending with the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral, where he has won eight times.
Woods seems happy with his game, despite being outplayed in the final round of his first two events of the season.
“I’m excited about my start and look forward to keep building,” he said. “I’ve made great strides from last year and hopefully all my hard work will pay off with a victory soon.”
Fred Couples, captain of the victorious U.S. Presidents Cup team last year, said Sunday in Dubai that he would relish an opportunity to help out with this year’s Ryder Cup team, too.
“It’s a Ryder Cup year, so if I can help (captain Davis Love) in any way, I’d love to do that,” Couples said. “I’ve never done anything but play in it.”
Obviously a fan of international competition, Couples said he is starting to get the fever for the Ryder Cup, which the Euros have dominated by winning four of the past five.
“I was talking with (European captain) Jose Maria (Olazabal) about it a little bit and I played with (Miguel Angel) Jiminez (Saturday). It’s a very exciting year. Obviously, it’s a big build-up until December but (the Americans), we haven’t won it in so long (since 2008), we’re looking forward to playing and having a good time.”
The Europeans have adopted a new qualification system for their Ryder Cup squad, giving more credence to those who play on the European Tour.
The top five players on the European Ryder Cup points list, combined with the top five players on the world Ryder Cup points list, will get automatic berths on the team, plus two captains’ picks.
At the moment, standout players such as Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose, who play more in the U.S., are on the bubble, while Gonzalo Fdez-Castano is a lock.
Abbotsford, B.C., native Adam Hadwin kicks off his rookie Nationwide Tour campaign Thursday in Bogota in the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship.
Hadwin, 24, is expected to do big things this season on the Nationwide Tour even though he comes in with just conditional status, and he should be comfortable in Colombia, winning in Bogota last year on the Canadian Tour.
“Golf is the same whether it’s the PGA Tour or a local mini-tour event — you have to get the ball in the hole,” Hadwin told PGATour.com. “But on the Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour there is other stuff you have to get used to and adjust to but that’s part of the job.”