Which will usher in a whole new round of office pools, drafts and side bets. We here at The Golf Channel dont endorse wagering. But we do give opinions. And heres one:
Dont rule out Luke Donald at Augusta next month.
The quietly-artistic Englishman, who captured the Honda Classic by two shots Sunday, finished tied for third last year as a Masters rookie. And this would appear to be his time of year. Two weeks prior to Augusta in 2005 he tied for second at The Players Championship.
Im excited, Donald told our panel on The Sprint Post-Game show Sunday night moments after outlasting Geoff Ogilvy in Florida.
And well he should be.
Donalds elephant in the room now for several years has been the 28-year-old Englishmans inability to deliver the goods on Sunday. Donald finished a disappointing 79th in fourth round scoring average last year. And it was something he and his swing coach, Northwestern University mens coach Pat Goss, had been acutely aware of for some time.
Then Donald blazed to a final round 64 in December at Tiger Woods Target World Challenge to come from six shots off the lead and capture an event that is unofficial but boasts an extremely strong field.
In four events this year, prior to Honda, Donald hadnt finished worse than 25th. Early Sunday bogeys at Nos. 7 and 10 were worrisome. But he rallied with four one putts in a row starting at thirteen. And that was enough.
Enough to brand him a favorite, once you get past Woods, in both the Players and the Masters. Prior to Sunday Donald had quietly climbed to No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking. After Honda he moved up two spots into the Top 10.
You can make the argument that the next European to win a major championship will be Luke Donald. It has been a long drought. The last Euro to do so was Scotlands Paul Lawrie in the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie. Interesting footnote: Donald played in the same threesome with Lawrie that year the first two rounds.
You really have to like Donalds chances at the U.S. Open in June at historic Winged Foot where the USGA has hinted strongly it will protect the golf course against the ravages of the bomb-it-and-wedge-it gang.
This will play right into Donalds hot hand. Which, with apologies to Paul Newman, is why theyre calling him, right now, Hot Hand Luke.
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