Donald arrives at Congressional as atypical world No. 1

By Associated PressJune 14, 2011, 11:31 pm

BETHESDA, Maryland – Luke Donald hasn’t won a whole lot, just two stroke play tournaments in the last five years. And he doesn’t hit the ball that far.

Quite atypical for the No. 1 player in the world.

The 33-year-old Englishman, who is ranked 153rd on the PGA Tour in driving distance, does indeed carry the mantle of the planet’s top golfer into this week’s U.S. Open.

Some might call it a quirk of the system. Others consider it a victory for consistency over streakiness, and a triumph of precision over power.

“It’s refreshing to see that the game is not being out-powered,” defending champion Graeme McDowell said Tuesday. “His iron play has always been unbelievable, and I think that’s one of the keys. I always knew he had a great wedge game and a great short game and a putting stroke to die for, so he’s really got his game polished up and driving it a lot better, and he’s really got the whole package now.”

Donald is the fourth player to hold the top spot in the last 12 months, a revolving door made possible by Tiger Woods’ personal problems and injuries. He vaulted ahead of Lee Westwood two weeks ago by beating his countryman in a playoff at the BMW PGA Championship in England, achieving a milestone he first seriously – and perhaps overzealously – considered a possibility some five years ago.

“It probably wasn’t the right mindset, in a way,” Donald said. “I pressed too hard and didn’t let things happen and got upset at myself when things weren’t perfect. And in the last few years I’ve just tried to go back to basics about just trying to improve every day, just trying to get a little bit better at every component in my game, just seeing that there are no limits at the margin of everything I do.

“I think that’s really gotten me to No. 1. It’s been less of a thought about trying to be there, just more about going through the processes.”

There are two ways to look at Donald’s rise. He has remarkable run of top-10 finishes in 15 of his last 16 events, including stroke play and match play tournaments on both the U.S. and European tours. Does this count as a string of success, or a series of lost opportunities?

“Well, certainly if you’re not in contention, you don’t have a chance to win,” Donald said. “That’s the first goal, is to get in contention and have that chance. And I’ve obviously done a great job of that. Certainly I could look back and think that I could have turned a couple of those seconds into victories, for sure. But overall it’s been a very satisfying few months.

“I’ve played extremely well. I’ve given myself lots of opportunities and I have taken a couple of them. If I was sitting here winless, yes, it would be a different story, but I’ve picked up a couple of trophies.”

Besides the playoff win over Westwood, Donald also won the Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Arizona, in February, and last year captured the Madrid Masters. Before that, his last victory was the 2006 Honda Classic. And, of course, he’s never won a major.

When Donald wins a tournament, he gets the customary trophy, the payday, the celebration on the 18th green. The No. 1 ranking comes with no pomp and circumstance whatsoever.

Given his druthers, he’s take a lot more of the former over the latter.

“They’re very different, obviously,” he said. “In simple terms, being No. 1 ranked means you’ve outperformed the rest of the golfers in a two-year period. You’ve played more consistently. In that regards it’s very gratifying to know that you’ve been more consistent and better over a two-year period.

“Obviously you win a tournament, you’re better over a four-day period. But winning is a big deal, and winning majors is a big deal. Certainly being No. 1 is a great achievement, but if you ask me if I would swap that for (Phil Mickelson’s) record, sure, I would love to take his majors and the number of victories he’s had. But I’ll continue to feed off all the good things that have got me to No. 1, and hopefully I can add to my victories, too.”

Donald’s game could be a nice fit for the setup at Congressional, even on a course set up to play as long as 7,574 yards.

The front nine has some shorter holes that suit his game, and players have emerged from practice rounds saying that fairways are contoured to reward straight drives.

“Someone asked me yesterday, ‘What type of player does this favor?”’ McDowell said. “I’m still trying to work that out, but it’s certainly not a bomber.

“It is great to see that the game is not all about par,” McDowell said. “You can still have a finesse player like Luke, but you’ve still got to be able to move it at least 280, 290 (yards) nowadays to have a chance to compete. He’s got the all-around game, and I think he’s very deserving of his No. 1 spot right now.”

 

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm