With his playoff victory over erstwhile top-ranked Lee Westwood on Sunday, Luke Donald is now the 15th No. 1-ranked player in the 25-year history of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Yes, this is the same Luke Donald who has so often struggled to close out events, winning just one stroke-play title worldwide in the past half-decade before claiming the prestigious BMW PGA Championship with a birdie on the first extra hole.
And yes, it’s the same Luke Donald who in 30 major championship appearances prior to last month’s T-4 finish at the Masters owned just four top-10 results.
But enough with the negative stuff.
That’s because this is also the same Luke Donald who has finished in the top-10 in 14 of his last 15 starts worldwide. The same guy who now owns wins against formidable fields at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the BMW. The same guy who owns four runner-up finishes in the past nine months.
And most importantly, the same one who has played the best golf in the world this year and deserves his newest honor.
“Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?” Donald said of his newfound status. “It’s an amazing accomplishment, something I’m very proud of … but I feel like I have many more good years ahead of me.”
With his win, Donald became the first player since Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters to overtake the top spot with a victory and becomes the third player to reach No. 1 since Woods relinquished it on Halloween, joining Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
If there’s a sign that the ranking is certainly volatile and potentially fleeting, it comes in Donald’s own comments after the achievement. He intimated, “Hopefully I can hang onto it for a few more weeks.”
Back in the olden days – you know, like, pre-2010 – when a player reached No. 1, he most often remained there for awhile. There seems to be more emphasis these days on getting there than staying there, but if Donald continues to play the type of golf he’s shown recently, “a few more weeks” could turn into much longer than that.
Whatever the case, he’s No. 1 for now. And a much deserved No. 1 at that.