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.


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.


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.


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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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.

Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.