Will anyone top Donald for No. 1 in 2012?

By Jason SobelDecember 22, 2011, 1:30 pm

Luke Donald assumed the world No. 1 ranking in May after beating Lee Westwood in the BMW Championship at Wentworth. Donald completes 2011 with 31 consecutive weeks as world No. 1 and apart from Tiger Woods, Donald now holds the longest stretch at the top spot since Greg Norman’s 96 weeks from 1995 to 1997. But 2012 is a new year with plenty of talented players hot on Donald's heels. Will anyone top Donald for the No. 1 spot in 2012? GolfChannel.com senior writers Jason Sobel, Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard weigh in with their thoughts.

By JASON SOBEL

As I gaze into my crystal golf ball, I foresee that exactly one year from today the No. 1 player in the world will be … Luke Donald.

I know, I know. Not exactly going out on a limb to maintain that the status quo will persist for the next 12 months, but there are a few major factors in play here – and they all favor Donald.

First is the fact that Donald turned into Mr. Consistency this past year. Long known as an underachiever, he won a combined four titles on the PGA and European tours. Just as important as far as his OWGR status is concerned, though, he was a top-10 machine. In fact, Donald finished in the top 10 more times than he didn’t. Pretty amazing feat, considering most of his tournament starts come against elite fields.

Next is the fact that professional golf has now reached an apparent age of parity. Since the beginning of 2009, the 12 major championships have seen 12 different winners. No player won more than two PGA Tour events this year. And certainly nobody is dominating. That all bodes well for Donald.

The last factor comes down to everybody’s favorite subject – math! The OWGR uses a two-year rolling calendar and while Donald will continually lose points for his strong 2011 season, they will remain on his ledger for the entirety of 2012, making it more difficult for him to tumble from the top.

Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood aren’t too far behind, and Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia should each make a serious run at it, but I see Luke Donald remaining as the No. 1 player in the world for at least another 52 weeks.


By RANDALL MELL

Rory McIlroy is positioned to make a run at taking the No. 1 ranking from Luke Donald, but it won’t come without a scrap.

Donald comes off as the perfect English gentleman, but he’s intensely protective of his top ranking, like a bulldog with a tight bite on it.


No. 5 Newsmaker of the Year: Luke Donald


Donald will end the year atop the Official World Golf Ranking for 31 consecutive weeks. That’s more than Lee Westwood (22 weeks) and Martin Kaymer (8 weeks) held it combined before Donald took over.

Listen to Donald, and you hear how he believes he’s the best player in the game today. He seems to be fueled by all his skeptics. Winning the money titles on both the PGA and European tours, winning four times worldwide, finishing top 10 practically every week he tees it up, Donald is emboldened with more confidence than he has ever had.

And Donald’s beginning to do what you expect a No. 1 player to do. He didn’t back into the top spot. He seized it winning the BMW Championship last May. He won the PGA Tour money title and PGA Tour Player of the Year honors winning the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in a dramatic Sunday charge.

Donald, of course, has a gaping hole in his No. 1 resume. He’s still looking for that first major championship title, and this is where he’s vulnerable to McIlroy.

McIlroy has shown a knack for getting his game ready for the strongest fields in the biggest events, the majors. Though just 22, he has already claimed one, last year’s U.S. Open. And he has already finished T-3 or better in four majors.

At 34, Donald has just two top-three finishes in majors. The respect he craves is tied to winning a major, and if McIlroy beats him to another one at the Masters, McIlroy will likely be perceived as the top player in the game today, regardless of whether McIlroy is actually ranked No. 1. Of course, there’s that guy named Tiger Woods, who changes the conversation if he builds on the Chevron win and gets hot again.


By REX HOGGARD

Although he’s not the “it” pick and will only spark more World Golf Ranking hand wringing if it happens, but the guy who Luke Donald unseated to ascend to the top of the world order is the most likely candidate to reclaim the No. 1 ranking.

In the frenzied ranking debate Lee Westwood has become something of the cellophane man, out of sight and largely out of mind. But if anyone is going to topple Donald it is his fellow Englishman who has the best chance.


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Consider that in 2011 Westwood lost more World Golf Ranking points than anyone else (360.997), yet was outgained (298.869) by just Donald (533.493) and Rory McIlroy (360.267) over the same period.

Westwood – who took over the top spot last fall and hasn’t ranked outside the top 10 since October 2009 – closed the year with victories in Thailand and South Africa to clip McIlroy for the year-ending runner-up ranking and will continue to play a schedule that will only pad his OWGR resume.

Over the last two years, Westwood has six worldwide victories, although just one on the PGA Tour, and three missed cuts in 45 starts.

Majors may be the ultimate benchmark in golf, but the World Golf Ranking rewards global consistency and, after Donald, no one does that better then Westwood.

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Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:35 pm

There was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”

While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.

When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”

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Podcast: Fujikawa aims to offer 'hope' by coming out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 17, 2018, 12:03 pm

Tadd Fujikawa first made golf history with his age. Now he's doing it with his recent decision to openly discuss his sexuality.

Last month Fujikawa announced via Instagram that he is gay, becoming the first male professional to come out publicly. Now 27, he has a different perspective on life than he did when he became the youngest U.S. Open participant in 2006 at Winged Foot at age 15, or when he made the cut at the Sony Open a few months later.

Joining as the guest on the latest Golf Channel podcast, Fujikawa discussed with host Will Gray the reception to his recent announcement - as well as some of the motivating factors that led the former teen phenom to become somewhat of a pioneer in the world of men's professional golf.

"I just want to let people know that they're enough, and that they're good exactly as they are," Fujikawa said. "That they don't need to change who they are to fit society's mold. Especially in the golf world where it's so, it's not something that's very common."

The wide-ranging interview also touched on Fujikawa's adjustment to life on golf-centric St. Simons Island, Ga., as well as some of his hobbies outside the game. But he was also candid about the role that anxiety and depression surrounding his sexuality had on his early playing career, admitting that he considered walking away from the game "many, many times" and would have done so had it not been for the support of friends and family.

While professional golf remains a priority, Fujikawa is also embracing the newfound opportunity to help others in a similar position.

"Hearing other stories, other athletes, other celebrities, my friends. Just seeing other people come out gave me a lot of hope in times when I didn't feel like there was a lot of hope," he said. "For me personally, it was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and something I'm very passionate about. I really want to help other people who are struggling with that similar issue. And if I can change lives, that's really my goal."

For more from Fujikawa, click below or click here to download the podcast and subscribe to future episodes:

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Davies takes 2-shot lead into final round of Senior LPGA

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 2:00 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies recovered from a pair of early bogeys Tuesday for a 2-under 70 that gave her a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship as she goes for a second senior major.

In slightly warmer weather on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, the 55-year-old Davies played bogey-free over the last 11 holes and was at 6-under 138. Brandi Burton had a 66, the best score of the tournament, and was two shots behind.

Silvia Cavalleri (69) and Jane Crafter (71) were three shots behind at 141.

Juli Inkster, who was one shot behind Davies starting the second round, shot 80 to fall 11 shots behind.

''I had a couple of bogeys early on, but I didn't panic,'' Davies said. ''I'm playing with a bit of confidence now and that's good to have going into the final round.''

Davies already won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open this summer at Chicago Golf Club.

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Miller's biggest on-air regret: Leonard at Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:00 am

Johnny Miller made a broadcasting career out of being brutally honest, calling golf tournaments exactly like he saw them.

His unfiltered style is what kept him on the air for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't always the most popular with players.

After announcing his upcoming retirement, Miller was asked Tuesday if there were any on-air comments he regretted over the last three decades. One immediately came to mind.

"I think that I didn't say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really - I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn't have said that," Miller recalled. "I want so much for the outcome that I'm hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn't win a match."

After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole - one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.

"Of course he ended up - after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal," Miller said. "Almost like a Hollywood movie or something."

Not only did the putt seal the comeback for the U.S., but it also earned Leonard an apology from Miller. 

"I apologized to him literally the next day; I happened to see him. I tried to make a policy when I go over the line that I get ahold of the guy within 24 hours and tell him I made a double bogey, you know. That's just the way I have done it through the years."