He didn’t exactly burst onto the golf stage. He crept up on it. England’s Luke Donald may carry the tag of best player to not own a major win, but his 2011 and 2012 has nothing to be ashamed of. He has a chance to re-claim the world’s top ranking. And that’s only the beginning.
Donald scored PGA TOUR Player of the Year for 2011 based on, well, being maybe just little more steady than those he was against. Sure, Keegan Bradley owned a pair of wins including a major, but Bradley did miss 10 cuts. Donald missed two. Count ‘em, two cuts. Some viewed Bradley and Webb Simpson as Donald’s closest competition for Player of the Year. Donald solidified that with a come-from-behind win at the CMN at Disney…and claiming the PGA TOUR money title in the process.
Donald is regaining the form that saw he win not only the PGA money crown, but also the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. Donald sits in 11th in the FedEx Cup standings. He’s not as high for the Race to Dubai (36th entering this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth), but Donald will move up this list as he is close to the top of the leaderboard, if not atop it.
And to completely understand how good Donald is, you have to look back at his 2011. His grit and determination to win both the PGA TOUR money title AND the Race to Dubai tell the whole story. Why? It had never been done prior to 2011. For those that say he still doesn’t own a major win, I will mention a couple names: Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood. Both are considered among the top players in the world and neither own a major.
And Donald has accomplished a feat that may even be rarer than winning a major. He gets short changed for that feat. You go through two separate tours and snag both money titles? Many want to attach the greatness of a player with that major title, but it doesn’t have to be that way, right? Winning one money title is impressive enough, but two?
I ask (instead of say) the previous two questions because there have been other good players in the past that haven’t achieved the level of their game that Donald has on display. Is there a player that is more consistent? I don’t believe so. Players can “get hot” and run off a win or two within a couple of months. Ask Jason Dufner. Or Hunter Mahan.
Granted, it is easier within the travel department compared to a few decades ago, but that is actually besides the point.
I suppose that point I’m trying to get across here is that when it comes to the so-called experts predicting the winners of any major, Donald’s name isn’t one that will readily flow from neither their brains nor their lips. With the manner in which major tracks are set anymore, longer hitters are generally (I repeat, generally) favored.
That said, I know not many, if any, had pegged Bubba Watson to win The Masters.
Back to Donald’s chance to re-claim #1 in OWGR. Current #1, Rory McIlroy, missed the cut at Wentworth, location for the BMA PGA. Look a those two names for a minute: Donald and McIlroy. Rors has that major so people automatically propel him to that of elite status. The kid has the charisma to go along with it, so that makes him “the young gun”, the future of the sport.
Meanwhile, Donald keeps plugging along.