He’s not the future of golf. He’s not dating a tennis star. He’s not chasing Jack’s records. He’s not known by his first name. He’s Luke Donald. And he’s World No. 1 … again.
Rory and Tiger have been the talk of the golf world this season and Phil always comes out swinging at the Masters. Hidden in the background of the current Big 3 stands golf’s No. 1.
Reigning PGA and European Tour player-of-the-year Donald is back on top of the rankings after winning a four-man playoff at the Transitions Championship on Sunday.
It’s the 34-year-old’s fifth PGA Tour victory and third in just over a year.
At first, golf fans might assume that Donald is happy not to be at the centre of golf’s glaring spotlight but upon further review it seems this youthful-looking Brit might have a bit of a beef with where he sits in the PGA cafeteria.
When asked about how he was treated after McIlroy won the Honda Classic and took over the top spot in the rankings, Donald answered, “I certainly wasn’t in the media at all.”
He added, “I think people saw my last year, or thought that my last year was maybe a little bit more of a, not a fluke, but you know, I don’t think many people thought I could do that all over again this year.”
This isn’t the first time he’s shown his competitive fire off the golf course. Last year, the PGA pushed back voting for its player of the year award after Donald won at Disney, allowing his competitors for the award another chance to narrow the gap the following week in Shanghai. This didn’t sit well with Donald and he let it be known.
“Why suddenly change the rule the day after Disney? It doesn’t make much sense to me,” Donald told the Golf Channel. “I think the decision to add HSBC is a little sketchy. I feel like even if I went to Shanghai and won, they’d find another event to add.”
This ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude seems to be a great motivator and is sure to continue as the buildup to The Masters begins and Donald rightly or wrongly finds himself a secondary conversation.
The new No. 1 took a playful shot at the man he knocked off the perch via twitter this week. McIlroy sent Donald a tweet congratulating him on his victory and reclaiming the top spot. Donald replied: “Thanks @McIlroyRory! You know anyone at the White House who could get me an invite :)”
McIlroy, of course, enjoyed a highly publicized visit to the White House to meet President Barack Obama last week. Since we all know presidents dig the long ball, it might be awhile before Donald gets an invite. A modest driver, Donald’s ascent to No. 1 has been in large part thanks to his putter. And that was the thought going through his head as he stood over the tournament-winning putt on Sunday.
“Last thing I thought about was I’ve been ranked No. 1 in putting the last three years,” he said after the playoff. “Just trust it and hit it in to get a win.”
Confidence is a great thing.