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Modest Donald fights back

Iain Carter | 18:58 UK time, Thursday, 29 September 2011

Luke Donald is a naturally modest and understated man. You can tell this by the way he prefaces statements with words and statements like "pretty", "a little bit" and "somewhat."

He has a humble, accommodating demeanour that often hides fierce ambition and on occasion great disappointment if a tournament has just slipped from his grasp.

But where he becomes unequivocal is when he talks of his achievement in making himself the best golfer on the planet because there are some who doubt his credentials to be considered the world's number one.

Many of those critics are Americans who point to the lack of a major title to Donald's name or even a strokeplay win on the PGA Tour for five years.

These are people for whom Wentworth's PGA Championship or the Scottish Open are not on the radar, even if the trophies from both prestige events are on the Donald mantlepiece.

"I don't know how anyone can argue against the world rankings system," Donald told BBC Sport in an exclusive interview at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this week.

Luke Donald

Donald has been by far the most consistent golfer over the past two years

"I've played better than anyone else over a two-year period and no one has been as consistent as I have. I've beaten the top players week in week out and other than maybe one or two guys I've earned double the amount of points than most players," he added.

"Obviously it has been a great year and I'm not only at the top of the world, I'm increasing my lead as well."

Donald's share of third place at the Tour Championship was just one shot out of the play-off won by Bill Haas. It was his 13th top-10 finish in 18 starts on the PGA Tour and he was shot away from the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot.

This has been interpreted in some quarters as yet more evidence that he lacks the nerve to close out big titles.

The fact is though that the more you challenge the more you can come under scrutiny for not winning. It is almost as though you are better off missing cuts when you don't win because absurdly you will attract less criticism.

With his astonishing run of high finishes on both sides of the Atlantic, the 33-year-old from High Wycombe beats more players more regularly than any other golfer and this is accurately reflected by the world rankings.
"He's had a phenomenally consistent year," admitted Lee Westwood, the man Donald overtook at the top of the rankings. "He's won three times which is obviously very good and they were big events, every time you turn on the telly he's in the top five, not just top tens.

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"While he's not the longest hitter he manages his game so well and this year he's turned himself into the best putter in the world. Every time he stands over it, it has a chance," Westwood added.

The first of Donald's three titles this year was the WGC Matchplay in Tucson, Arizona in February. A week earlier he had emerged from an eleven-week break and missed the cut in Los Angeles. "I was a little bit match rusty, I suppose," he understated.

After beating Martin Kaymer in the final of the matchplay Donald talked about "a monkey off his back" because it ended a lengthy win drought on America soil. The victory was also vindication for all the hard work that had gone on in the prior weeks he had taken away from the Tour.

"Looking back it was a little bit of a risk but in hindsight it really paid off. It's not easy watching guys play for eight weeks, picking up points and getting ahead on the money lists. But I had a plan and I stuck to it," said the man who now heads the money lists in both America and Europe.

There was one particularly hard week that proved the bedrock of this stellar year. Donald met up with his long time swing coach Pat Goss and performance expert Dave Alred (he of Johnny Wilkinson fame and ball-swapping infamy) to establish the foundations for the season.

"We were getting up early and finishing late," Donald recalled. "Doing a lot of working out, all kinds of stuff and it was very rewarding. I wanted to push myself to see how far I could go, how much practice I could do, what I could accomplish.

"I proved to myself that I've got a lot more in me than I actually thought."

Alred taught Donald to think like an assassin, to have a "no mercy" approach to the game that was so evident as he dispatched his opponents at the matchplay and Westwood in the play-off for the PGA at Wentworth in May.

So is he a natural assassin? "It doesn't quite go hand in hand with my character, I'm a little more soft spoken than an assassin might be," Donald said. "But certainly Dave has brought that side out of me and made me a bit more strong in the way that I think and the work ethic I put in."

When Donald just missed out at the Tour Championship television showed him happily signing autographs for waiting fans. He didn't look crushed by just missing out on another big title, but looks can deceive.

"I was very down. I had a great year and to be so close and work so hard and not quite get the job done is very disappointing."

He is also frustrated that he has yet to land a major. "The goal at the start of the year was to contend in all four. I contended in two which is an improvement but it isn't quite what I wanted.

"If there is anything disappointing about this year it is probably the majors," he added.

Certainly in a year when Rory McIlroy romped to the US Open and Darren Clarke claimed his emotional Open Championship it is easy to see why Donald's achievements have been overshadowed.

"I'm not one that cries out for recognition but I've had a great year. Doing it by being a member of both tours is not easy. Out of the few guys who are members of both tours I was the only one who made it to the Tour Championship.

"So yes there are a few times where I feel a little bit forgotten but I'll keep pressing on and let my clubs do the talking."

They've certainly been eloquent this year and Donald has assumed a seemingly unshakable air of confidence. He will become a father for the second time in the next month or so and believes there is no limit to what he can achieve as a golfer.

"You know, we always talk about peaking for the majors and the big events," he says. "I feel like if I keep improving in the way that I am, I'm not going to need to peak to win. My golf is going to be good enough no matter what."

With such unequivocal confidence borne out of such results, it is very hard not to believe the man who is already the best golfer in the world.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    He's No 1 in the world rankings because he's consistent, and that's what rankings reward. It's just a computer formula.
    In the end, its about what you value. A world ranking versus a claret jug, or a green jacket... ?

  • Comment number 2.

    Brilliant article Iain. In my mind, there is no doubt he is the world number 1. Lukey D may lack a bit of length when compared to the longer hitters, but he has the best short game around and is unbelievably consistent. His position as the best player in the world should be unequivocal, yet people continue to doubt it. Surely three wins and 13 top 10's justify his ranking?! Again, brilliant article about a genuinely classy bloke and golfer.

  • Comment number 3.

    "Consistent" and "best" are not quite the same thing, are they? The PGA ranking system measures only consistency, not flair, resilience, mental toughness, or other factors, so Donald is undoubtedly the "best" only as measured by this one method.

    In the long run, however, no-one will remember the bloke who consistently finished fifth, any more than they will remember that woman (what's-her-name?) who got to be No.1 in the tennis rankings without ever winning a Major.

  • Comment number 4.

    How exactly would a ranking system take flair into account? It is not measurable. The ranking system rewards the players who win the most or who are compete on a consistent basis- the signs of the best players. Luke Donald has done both more regularly than any other player over the two year period; hence why he is the best. Surely?

  • Comment number 5.

    Very good Iain, very fair on Luke and Luke obviously knows, without necessarily saying so, that he's been outstandingly the Player Of The Year but may not be remembered for that unless he collects at least one Major.
    Since he returned from his 2008 US Open injury, Luke has improved year on year. He no longer needs to hit the ball further but he does need to drive it straighter - that'll be the difference between his nearly man image and a Champion.
    Good luck to him.

  • Comment number 6.

    Do we really have to go through this YET again? He IS the No 1 player in the World..based on the rankings system.FACT. He is the most consistent golfer over the last two years in the world. FACT.

    It is PATHETIC to hear anyone bleating and whining and complaining ( as the Americans love to do) about it. Frankly it's disrespectful to Donald (or indeed Westwood when he was No 1.)

    It's the rankings system golf is using... and Donald is No.1.

  • Comment number 7.

    Strange one this.

    I really like Luke Donald. I am a fan. I like the way he hits his irons and the way he putts. I cheer him on.

    Actually, you could say being world no.1 is a better achievement than winning a major - only 15 golfers have ever been no.1, but many, many more have won majors, including countless journeymen (Todd Hamilton; Shaun Micheel...).

    But...

    Luke seems to have a strange habit of getting in the mix for events, without really challenging for the win. Or, if he is in with a chance to win, he seems to blow up - finding the water at the worst possible moment. He is not a 'closer.'

    This season has been littered with near-misses The Masters; The Heritage; Firestone WGC; The Tour Championship; (you could maybe even make a case for adding the PGA to that list). Always in the mix, without threatening (except for the Heritage, which he did well to lose - needed to just be 1 under for the final nine, and couldn't do it), and when he does threaten, he blows up! Water at Firestone; water at the Masters; water at the PGA...

    Ho hum. A likeable, consistent, enigma.

  • Comment number 8.

    He deserves to be ranked no.1 because he's accumulated the most points, but that doesn't make him the best player.

    For example everyone knows Rory Mcilroy has a better game than Donald, the computer rankings dont change that.

    Luke Donald is another Monty; an accomplished player who hasn't quite got the game to win the biggest events.

  • Comment number 9.

    The reality is you don't get close to winning - once let alone as often as Luke does - unless you "have it". And he has it in spades. The difference at the top level between first and fifth is minisucle - one iffy bounce etc. And on top of the talent he is a true gentleman. Why can't we just applaud the talent and wish him well?

  • Comment number 10.

    For anyone who writes off Donald, please remember that he is pnly 33 years old and he is only coming into the peak of his powers now. It's not a situation like Westwood where he is approaching his forties and missed his chance. Donald will have numerous more opportunities in the next few years to win majors because he's so consistent and sometime everything will go right for him. The way his career is progressing I wouldn't be surprised for it to be multiple wins for him in the end. Fine player.

  • Comment number 11.

    For several years now the Majors have become a bit of an anomaly; if Woods didn't win them then it was often not even a top ten player winning them so winning a Major win cannot define anyone as the best player in the world apart from a measure which takes into account only that day!

    Ultimately the Majors are the greatest test because they are invariably contested by all the best players in the world whereas other competitions, however well contested, will be diluted as there will be other competitions on at the same time.

    Personally though, I believe that winning a major is the icing on the cake for a top player. Consistent, brilliant performances in the top comps on the US and Euro circuits is arguably a greater achievement than a one-off major win (some contributors here are suggesting that Paul Lawrie is a better player than Luke Donald because he won a major...surely not!).

    I think Donald will win a major in the next couple of years but if he doesn't do so, it doesn't detract from the fact that right now, he has the class to be compared favourably to the best players of the last 20 years or so.

    Incidentally, sweeping statements like "For example everyone knows Rory Mcilroy has a better game than Donald, the computer rankings dont change that", don't really hold much water!

    Rory McIlroy is currently 2 for 1 on collapses from winning positions in Majors for now and though 10 years from now I expect to be hailing Rory as one of the greats, for now he has the class and the game but maybe not quite the consistency to be World No 1.

  • Comment number 12.

    If Man United weren't consistent they wouldnt have been able to win so many league titles. Liverpool of late have won the champions league and reached another final, but have not measured up to the standard, and cant even qualify for the competition anymore. Do people say Liverpool over the past 15 years have been one of the best? Quite the contrary. Golf and Tennis are strange sports with their majors, to discredit the accomplishments of the rest of the calendar events is somewhat naive, give it appropriate context and then maybe you will appreciate the achievement.

    Oh and @3 Wozniacki.

  • Comment number 13.

    Any money he meant Safina but Wozzy correct too.

    Who cares how ignorant people/ Americans view Donald? The problem with this world is that idiots are in the majority and they're allowed to be wrong.

  • Comment number 14.

    It is very sad that Americans cannot accept that someone ( ie. a non American ) can be number one in golf withoiut winning a major. We are somehow to believe that Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel etc. are somehow more worthy of being world number one because they won a major. Luke Donald it is true has shown that he cannot close out winning tournaments that he should win on a few occasions but his overall play for the last two years has far exceded any other golfer on any proffesional tour. He has won two-three tournaments each year but this is not good enough for the doubting Thomases across the pond. We can only believe that the American media cannot accept that American sports personalities do not dominate any of their favorite sports anymore.

  • Comment number 15.

    Luke Donald deserves all his plaudits for being number one. He has been consistently very good.

    But that is all. He has not been consistently excellent, and when I have seen him play, I have not been thinking "here is our winner", I've been thinking he'll come top 10. In my opinion, he lacks something to be a true great or to actually compete at majors, but that may come with time.

    Golf's No.1 ranking also means something a bit different to other sports, in part due to the technical nature of the game. In this way, it is a fantastic acheivement to be No.1, and to be lauded, but I do not feel that No.1 and Best have to go hand in hand. At the moment, there is no consistently excellent all round player, there are a few who are very good at some things, and there are a few who are quite good at a lot of things. Donald is one of those who is rather good at it all, so he will be high in the rankings when there is a standard drop. Like in tennis before Federer appeared.

  • Comment number 16.

    Clearly there are some envious Americans around however we should ignore these churlish jibes. Luke Donald is a very accomplished golfer, has improved immensely over the last 2 years as the Number 1 status shows very obviously and we should rejoice in the fact that he is English. Also one of sports, not just golf, good guys.

    As well as his tournament statistics of top 5 and top 10 finishes and his tournament wins you may also find that he had the best individual record at last years Ryder Cup event.


    He readily admits that he fell short of his own targets in the majors but here's hoping he makes it one day, I personally will be cheering for him if he does. Enough from the knockers!

  • Comment number 17.

    Golf is obsessed with 4 tournaments. To be the world numer one you have to pick up more ranking points over a 2 year period. To win a major you have to be the best golfer over just 4 rounds. I know which is the better achievment.

    There's a perception that you need to be a special player to win a major and that without one, you can't be considered a top player but a list of recent winners of the so-called majors says it all:
    Clarke, Oosthuizen, Keegan, McDowell, Glover, Cink - all decent golfers but i dont consider any of them to be 'greats' just because they had one week where they happened to be the best player in the field.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hang on a minute here, was it not the Americans who set up the world ranking system and then modified it quite a bit? If number 1 was an American without a major would there be the same complaints? I think not. A player can only work within the system, if that system produces a number 1 player who has not won a major that is not his fault. Besides I am not in agreement with three majors being in one country, and I have never understood why the Masters is a major, it's only held on one course, initially you did not qualify you were invited. US Open and The Open are the two majors that count for most, the other two are just hyped up. Leave Luke alone, he is the best, he racked up most points, he is most consistent, end of.

  • Comment number 19.

    Next year i'd be surprised if Donald didn't win a major, everything seems to be clicking into place for him now, he'll just need to be a bit ruthless towards the end of tournaments to 'close it out' and after reading the blog you can be sure he'll be working on that.
    Aside from that he does conduct himself excellently on course and seems like a genuine bloke, good luck to him.

  • Comment number 20.

    Luke Donald's position as world number one despite not having won a major is unusual, but not unique - Lee Westwood was in just this position last year, and in the past Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples and David Duval all led the rankings before their first major victories. Greg Norman led the rankings in 1995, 1996 and 1997 by winning more events on the tour than anyone else, not through winning majors in those years. The world number one position has always gone to the most consistent player; it's just been the case during most of the last 15 years that the most consistent player (Tiger Woods) was also the one winning the majors, so this "major wins v money won" debate never surfaced.

    I'm sure that privately Donald might swap his number one ranking for Rory McIlroy's US Open win, but I'm equally sure that both players desperately want to have both "major champion" and "world number one" on their resume. Donald will have plenty of chances to win majors now he's reached number one, but getting to the top of the rankings during their career is an objective that many other great major champions have then fallen short of - Phil Mickelson being the prime example.

  • Comment number 21.

    It is also often considered that at 33 LD should be approaching his prime... so to be already #1 and with his best years ahead, there should be plenty more wins (including Majors) to come.
    I appreciate there have been a number of 20-somethings winning on tour this year but that has yet be seen as a trend over a few seasons rather than an anomoly in 2011.
    Credit where credit is due - Luke got to #1 and cemented his place... something Kaymer failed to do.
    Do not write Westwood off either - definitely a Major in him ie. the one where he putts well. Tee to green he is equal if not better than LD.

  • Comment number 22.

    My opinion on this is is similar to the Americans. I'm not saying LD doesn't deserve to be no.1. He's the most consistent player in the world and has accumulated the ranking points necessary to ascend to top of the rankings. My problem is that Luke is very poor in the majors and to have a World no.1 with such a terrible major record is a little bit weird. Until Westwood became no.1 in the world, correct me if I'm wrong but every world no.1 was a major champion. The only multiple major winners in golf at the moment are Singh, Els, Furyk, Harrington, Woods and Mickelson, Daly and Cabrera, none of who are in their prime. That's dissappointing and the game needs some of the young pretenders to start winning 4/5 events a year. McIlroy still only has 3 trophies to his credit, Manassero is well on pace at 2, Fowler 0, Ishikawa hasn't won on PGA either. Watney, Johnson, Watson and Scott all have serious potential to be world stars but need to start winning majors too. Personally I would love to see Keegan Bradley go from strength to strength and becoming a star.

  • Comment number 23.

    Its ok being number 1 and all the money won to get there but i am sure our guys who have been number ones, Westwood, Donald and even Monty would give up all there number 1 status's to be a major winner, i just cant see it happening for Luke or Lee and maybe we are just looking at two new Monty's!

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    @22 superbaby i cant see Fowler ever winning a trophy, he is very, very overrated and is a top bottler when it comes down to the crunch!

  • Comment number 26.

    I here that Westwood is trying out belly putters in what could be a final atempt to win a major!

  • Comment number 27.

    @22 micksausage. I believe that along with Scott, Fowler has potential to win tournaments through his putting alone. He just rattles them in and gets serious momentum as a result. see ryder cup. He contended in so many events as a rookie, finishing 2nd in so many big tournies. This year has not been nearly as impressive, but give the fella a chance, when you play the same courses, you get better at them and with more experience added to his incredible flair, you have a serious player on your hands. I know the Americans have christened him too early but still I'd love to see him and Rory becoming an Atlantic rivalry. We need it.

  • Comment number 28.

    If Man Utd won the Manchester derby, beat Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the same season but came 3rd in the league behind Chelsea and Man City would they be the best because they beat them in one off games?

    No, the team that finished top of the league after showing more consistency would be the best, as measured by the finishing positions.

    Golf now is contested by a supremely talented field, much deeper in talent than ever before so the rankings show the best golfer and the major winners show who was the best of that talented group over the four days of that competition, that small part of the whole season.

    This is not overly difficult to understand, Donald has shown that he has the best game over a long period of time, not that he hit on some form for a four day window. Every dog has his day, it takes a little more than a streak of form to stay at the top.

    And for the record I think he'll end up with a handful of majors before he's done, his game is too good not to.

  • Comment number 29.

    @DiddyDavidHamilton. Yeah convince yourself you are right man, World no.1 is a postition which brings no trophy. Ask Luke Donald whether he would rather be no. 30 in the world and the Open Champion or no.1 in the world and no majors to show for it. Golf has many events world wide but at end of his career he will be asked how many majors he won, and he won't like the answer. Ask Monty!

  • Comment number 30.

    Donald is just like Westwood...will never win a Major. They dont have the bottle and will always choke under the pressure.
    Did anyone else hear John Hawksworth on Sky saying that Belly Putters should be banned from them game. he called them 'A Ridiculous Embarressment the game'

  • Comment number 31.

    #8

    i think amassing the most points does make him the best player.

    In any other sport, being top of the rankings means you are the best, so why not golf ?
    And he's done it on both tours this year.
    sure others may have flair, and that flair may come to the fore for a week and earn you a major.
    But with flair comes inconsistency, and with this you will never be number 1.

  • Comment number 32.

    The two things are independent. He's proven himself to be the world's best player over the last 2 years and should be proud. He'll also be more than annoyed that he's not managed to win a major - however I don't think this detracts from his natural ability

  • Comment number 33.

    To those talking about flair being a measure of who's the 'best' - flair is relative; what you see and I see are often going to be different, so you can't use that as the measure. Results however, are absolute, so you can use it, and Donald is certainly wiping the floor in that respect.

  • Comment number 34.

    Using examples from even more entry restricted sports than Golf - Snooker first, it has world ranking points plus (in my opinion) only 1 major (at the Crucible each year) and with the possible exception of Jimmy White there aren't many other players who are remembered who haven't won the World Championship but may have been ranked World Nr 1 at some point in their career.

    Then in Formula 1 although not with a formal world ranking system - the Nr 1 is often accepted as being the current World Champion even, if has happened on 2 occasions Mike Hawthorne and Keke Rosberg became world champions but only won 1 race each in their respective winning years so their consistent points scoring was the key factor not consistent race winning.

    Again with the possible exception of Stirling Moss (16 GP wins) the majority of drivers who never became world champion are not easily remembered by most people.

    Therefore not certain if individual wins or consistency of performance is best!

  • Comment number 35.

    I think that we need to put into perspective just what an achievement it is to lead both Tours at the same time. No-one has ever one both in the same season. Luke hasn't just come close this year he has one three high quality events with exceptional fields. 13 top tens out of 18 starts in the US!

    One more stat which I'm sure every golfer reading this will be amazed by - Luke Donald has now played 434 holes (and counting) on the PGA Tour without a 3 putt. That is simply unbelievable!

  • Comment number 36.

    The standard of golf is too high to win easy, just look at the last 12 or so Major winners! You need an exceptional week to win them, clearly. Luke just hasn't had his... yet.

  • Comment number 37.

    What does everyone think about the John Daly incident in Austria last week? Apparantly he pushed his caddy over and kicked him in the back. Dont know how he's got away with this behaviour.
    Sumo82, you touched on this before, have you heard anything?

  • Comment number 38.

    Apparently John Daly is still pending an investigation, but i do agree with BiloMcT it was absolutely disgraceful what he did to his caddy, I'd personally give him a ban to make an example of him.

  • Comment number 39.

    This is the very same bunch of press and sports fans (maybe different people I know) who have been claiming for years how ridiculous it is for womens' tennis that the no.1 has not won an Open.

    How there aren't really any truly great players that stand out, what a low and "boring" period for the sport this is, and finally what a absolute joke the WTA ranking system is for allowing this to occur.

    The difference? Safina Jankovic Wozniacki and the chasing pack are FOREIGNERS and by and large Eastern European.



    .

  • Comment number 40.

    nibs....go away to a Tennis blog! this is a golf blog to discuss Luke Donald, Belly Putters , John Daly slapping his Caddy and John Hawksworth.

  • Comment number 41.

    It's funny how Luuuuke's confidence rarely reflects in his game, in the sense that you never really see him taking big risks (not that he ever needs to). But the contrast of modesty and confidence in his character is quite admirable and perhaps this balance helps him keep on the steady consistency. He will win a major.

  • Comment number 42.

    Fair play to Donald, he's performed consistantly well over the past two years and as far as i can tell he deserves the top spot in the world Rankings. to say he shouldn't be world number one because he has never won a major is a little short-sighted in my eyes. If owning one of the four majors is a pre-cursor for being top of the rankings then players like Donald and Westwood who have been consistantly good over the past two years would by definition rank lower than players such as Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton etc etc who have won majors and are still active players.

  • Comment number 43.

    Luke thoroughly deserves him No.1 ranking bed on his consistency. The problem Luke Donald and any other golfer for that matter has is that for pretty much the last 10 years the number one golfer has been a multiple major winner, breaker of records, and has set a bench mark so high, that most golfers will never realise the same level of achievement. So because Tiger was No.1 for so long, the moment a new No.1 comes along they are immediately compared to him whether we like it or not.

  • Comment number 44.

    #14 puts it perfectly, the Americans find it difficult to accept that US golfers don't dominate the game and almost certainly never will again. The Americans are smarting from the fact that so many of the best players in the world ignore the PGA to play elsewhere. Realistically there are probably only three or four Americans in the top twenty. Even when you look at the up and coming American players, like Webb Simpson who is not in the same class as Mcillroy.

    Europe have very little to worry about in the next Ryder Cup even with their disgraceful, unsporting and vitriolic supporters and the constant USA, USA chants as Europeans play their shots to contend with.

  • Comment number 45.

    So many people say that consistency doesn't go hand in hand with being the best. What utter rubbish. In sporting history, the greats have all got one thing in common; consistency. Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Jack Nicklaus, to name but a few, were all incredibly consistent.
    I'm not suggesting Luke Donald is one of the greats, yet. However, he is doing everything right. This year he's put himself in contention week in, week out. You can't win tournaments and majors without putting yourself in contention. The next step for Luke is to convert those many contending positions into a few more wins and hopefully a major or two, much like Novak Djokovic has done this year in tennis.
    Achieving sporting excellency takes time and effort. Luke has put in the hard work, achieved much success this year, and hopefully will have even better things to come next year.

  • Comment number 46.

    Bloomin' Yanks... know nothing

  • Comment number 47.

    Devilisindetails you say there are not many memorable snooker players that have been number 1 but have not won at Crucible and try to compare it to golf, but it's incomparible as most snooker tour events are best of 9 frames from 1st round through to final whereas the worlds are best of 19 to start and then the final is best of 35 (or 33 maybe). If the golf majors were played over 15 rounds rather than 4 then I'm sure that Donald would have won a few by now!

    Can't comment about the F1 bit as that's dull and I don't follow it.

  • Comment number 48.

    For me the issue is whether Luke Donald is a "great player" and not just a another Caroline Wozniaki.

    Yes he is consistent and yes he is a fine player but his reign at No 1 for me highlights a major gulf in class from the golf played two years or so to the current time.

    Surely the World No 1 should be a dominant figure. One who should be feared and the rest of the field achieve that players standard. Unfortunately Donald and to a lesser extent Kaymer, McIlroy and Westwood are not those players. Mind you if Kaymer and McIroy become consistent they will bring the standards to a higher level than it is at the moment. They both hint at doing such.

    Currently alot of tournaments are being won,when the likes of Donald, Westwood and McIroy should be dominating. In this context I believe and it is my opinion that mens golf is in a state of flux and Donalds position is rather false. Sorry if this seems harsh but in my lifetime I cannot remember the game not having a dominate personality at its head.

  • Comment number 49.

    What does everyone think about the John Daly incident in Austria where he slapped his caddy, pushed him over and kicked him in the back?

  • Comment number 50.

    It must take a lot of bottle to come on here and post about Donald's lack of it! Go back to your desk jobs or homework please.

    Donald has got the best short game in the business. His chipping and his putting from 10 feet in is comparable to Woods in his pomp. Any golfer would know that that takes real bottle! Anyone who watched the Tour Championship will know that Donald was rubbish on days 2 and 3.Did he lose his composure and blow up like so many would have? No, he toughed it out and finished a shot back. He's a fantastic golfer who lacks the length to dominate golf courses the way some can. He plays to his strengths, works hard, and is getting better and better. What is there not to praise?
    Rory will probably be number one sooner or later and end up with several Majors but at the moment Luke is the best player on the planet, he just doesn't happen to be a huge natural talent like Woods, Mickelson and Rory, hardly his fault.

    Winning majors is tough for all but the super talented. Not only do you have to play great, you also have to hope that none of a hundred other guys happen to play even better ... or get luckier. I'd argue that the rankings are a truer reflection of a players achievements than the majors. The true greats will win multiple majors but being number one is a far better achievement than winning one.

  • Comment number 51.

    @48
    What are you proposing, scrapping the ranking system until a new superstar emerges? Or are you just whining?

  • Comment number 52.

    #48. Vijay Singh?

  • Comment number 53.

    Luke Donald will never win a major. He is a pure Monty #2. Bottles under the biggest pressure. He is nearly as big a choker as Lee Westwood.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ 53
    See post 50!

  • Comment number 56.

    forgot to mention this ... great blog Mr. Carter, thank you!

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 55
    He is a bottler. If he cant win a Major as #1 he doesnt deserve the ranking. He has to stop choking at the highest level.

  • Comment number 58.

    @57
    are you sure it's not just a case of a smaller number of players playing better than him on one day?

  • Comment number 59.

    @29 superbaby88

    There is a prize for topping the money lists though...

    Luke is trying to be the first player to top the Order of Merit and PGA Tour in the same season - incredible achievement, which at the end of his career, will add to his weeks at World Number 1, Major wins, Ryder Cup exploits, longest run of holes without 3-putt etc to mark him out as one of the best players of a generation.
    Then Wee Mac will go and blitz it !!!

    In terms of 'choking' like Westwood (???) I don't recall either of them being 5-6 shots clear and crumbling like other players, who did go on to win majors.

    PS. I tipped Clarke at St Georges and I'll back Donald and Westwood in majors in 2012. Nobody write off Sergio yet either. (With him back on form, USA have no hope in the next Ryder Cup!)

  • Comment number 60.

    bish, Donald and Westwood both flatter to decieve. When proper good players could be bothered and have a good week they cant live with them. They are massive bottlers and chokers!

  • Comment number 61.

    You see some guys who can crush the ball off the tee, others who never miss a putt & others with superb iron play.

    Then you watch Luke play a full round (thank you Sky) and realise why he is the #1.

    Consistency..........putting it all together every day of every tournament.

    Ask any club golfer what they'd like to improve about their game and the vast majority would say...............consistency.

    Luke used to have at least one round in the 70s in every tournament - how often does this happen these days?

    Let's applaud our English golfing #1 for being the most consistent, likeable golfer we've had come from the UK for years.

    Come on Lee, Paul, Justin, Ian, Simon and the rest of the English golfers (and the US, Australian and ROW wannabees)....you've got some catching up to do, guys.

  • Comment number 62.

    Bilo, are you saying finishing in the top 5 of most tournaments isn't great? Let's not forget he hasn't hit a single over-par round on the PGA tour this year...

  • Comment number 63.

    his record in majors isnt great. This is the true test of a champion. he has a couple of random 3rd places in 2005/2006 i think but thats the height of it. Until he wins a couple of majors he'll be forever a bottler. and a choker.

  • Comment number 64.

    See Westwood has choked again after bogeying his last two holes. Huge bottler.

  • Comment number 65.

    BiloMcT - I don't know what your beef is with Luke Donald, but i think you should take your Dunces hat off and look at what he has acheived over the last year, it's not all about majors, its about his consistent above average play and finishes, i can see why your saying Westwood is a bottler but not Donald. You remind me of John Daly with your constant rattle about choking!

  • Comment number 66.

    i'm nothing like John Daly. he resorts to physical violence. usally towards his caddy when he pushes them over and kicks them in the back.

  • Comment number 67.

    BiloMcT - thats what i mean, your treating Luke Donald Like John Daly treated his caddy at the Austrian open. I think you've had a liquid lunch because its hot and its a Friday!

  • Comment number 68.

    BiloMcT, have you played golf before?

    If so you would know how thin the dividing line is between greatness and mediocrity.............millimetres.

    We can all hit amazing shots and hole amazing putts but to do that week-in week-out over 72 holes for years takes supreme discipline and talent.

    Some of the world's finest players didn't start winning majors until their 30s (Nick Faldo, of whom almost everyone said would never win one and Ben Hogan ( possibly the best of all time) who was 36 when he one the first of 8).

    Many of the world's finest players have never won a major at all, including Monty and, so far, Lee W.

    Majors are just one way of measuring greatness, not the only one.

  • Comment number 69.

    Most of us golf fans don't care about the world rankings, it's only tournament wins that are important.

  • Comment number 70.

    Timmo, majors are the only way to judge. Even Peter Allis said last week any player who hasnt won a major should not be allowed to be called worlds number one.

  • Comment number 71.

    Peter Allis is 127 bless him ... have you listened to his commentary recently, he's bonkers. The difference between him and you Bilo is that he had it once ... you never will. You're constant carping about bottle just highlights your lack of it.

  • Comment number 72.

    MATTLEHAGI...BET YOU USE A BELLY PUTTER

  • Comment number 73.

    Off topic I know but does anyone remember the name of the American guy who used to do the Open commentary with Allis maybe 15-20 years ago? My favourite commentator ever, used to have me in stitches with his dru one liners and little stories.
    Mr. Carter perhaps you could help me out here?

  • Comment number 74.

    dry or even droll, I meant

  • Comment number 75.

    mattlehagi, your thinking of John Hawksworth.

  • Comment number 76.

    mattlehagi, the best commentator is John Hawksworth

  • Comment number 77.

    Lets show some respect to Peter Alliss, i won't have him disrespected mattlehagi
    The man is a legend, you should be ashamed.

  • Comment number 78.

    Sumo82, your right. its disgraceful what mattlehagi wrote. Allis is always spot on. His thoughts on Belly Putters last week were right and he was right to speak out about John Daly

  • Comment number 79.

    @77
    As long as it's not your 17 year old daughter he's drooling over I guess, enough to put you off the golf! He was great but he needs pensioning off.

  • Comment number 80.

    And I mean that for his own good. He has done a great deal for golf, but he's in danger of saying something REALLY inappropriate and ruining his reputation/legacy.

  • Comment number 81.

    I think the day Peter Alliss stops commentating will be a very sad day, he's old school and opinionatied, the last of a dying breed at the BBC.

  • Comment number 82.

    @sumo
    I absolutely agree with everything you say in post 81. My concern is that he is in ever increasing danger of causing REAL offence and having someone kicking up a stink about it. If that happens his name will always be associated with that incident, that's the way the world is these days. Wouldn't that be a far sadder end? By all means get him to share his opinions to camera and make him still feel wanted but no more live work please.

  • Comment number 83.

    I understand what you mean and your probably right, but it annoys me how some people can get away with leud comments and slurs like when monty came out with the shocking ' I'd like to drive one up her fairway' about Jane Geddis in the late 90's, it just got laughed off

  • Comment number 84.

    I like Donald and I think the fact he contends week in week out is remarkable. He is a great match player which takes bottle despite the different format. But he was world no.1 coming into the british open playing well, then he misses the cut. There is an issue there with majors. Here's a question, bar the obvious (Monty, Garcia, Westy and LUUUUUKE, name a GREAT player never to win a major??

  • Comment number 85.

    the list is quite small, basically because great players tend to win majors. He has time yet but the world no.1 should be the guy to beat and he simply ain't doing enough at the moment, he was good at the masters this year, granted but he needs to be more aggressive, harrington and mcilroy were aggressive when they won their majors. Sometimes they'll fall short but if you keep being aggressive it will happen for you. Steve stricker and Luke Donald are very similar in style and stricker is just as consistent as Donald. Is anybody saying Stricker is the best player in the world. Only Tiger kept him off the top spot for years but never contends in majors. Not aggressive enough!

  • Comment number 86.

    Apart from Monty the others all still have a chance. Tom Kite was 42 and was considered the greatest never to have won one, but in the end he did.
    Isao Aoki was a big name but perhaps not quite a true great - only one PGA tour win, along with the World Matchplay and European Open - best place 2nd at US open with 4 other major top 10's. A great in terms of what he did for Asian golf though.
    It's a very good point but the 3 you mention aren't done yet.

  • Comment number 87.

    This is no stick to beat Donald with though, no one is saying he's a great of the game, simply the best in the world at the moment, which he is.

  • Comment number 88.

    @superbaby88 (post 84), when do you want the list to start? Among others I'd call "great", Bruce Crampton was almost ever-present among the PGA tour's top ten for a decade up to 1975, finished runner-up in four majors (every single time behind Jack Nicklaus) but never won one. Doug Sanders was one of the best players in the world throughout the '60s but also missed out (famously blowing his best ever chance in 1970 on the final green at St. Andrews). Or what about Peter Oosterhuis? He was arguably Britain's best golfer throughout the 1970s, should have won the 1973 Masters and then had three or four real tilts at the Open.

  • Comment number 89.

    Never in a million years is Luke Donald the best player in the world. Yes, he is consistent, consistent at finishing 3rd and picking up ranking points. Please could someone remind of the the 2 majors he is supposed to have to have "contended" this year.

  • Comment number 90.

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

  • Comment number 91.

    I find it amusing that non of the wise guys (I refrain from using the actual word in my mind) propose a better system of qualifying nr 1 in the world or 'greatest player in the world'! How about the player with the 'most majors in the last two years'!?Then we can share the title among 8 players! It is truly stupid to criticise without a VIABLE alternative. Luke Donald is nr 1. Period. I'm interested to read the flair-fanatics' presenting their alternatives.

  • Comment number 92.

    #3 Was perhaps referring to Dinara Safina - anyone remember her? Doesn't look like Wozniacki's got the game to win a major either though - powderpuff! Rather like certain others mentioned above: in golf (and tennis) the field at a major is much deeper. A third pace in Tucson doesn't quite grab the imagination like a barnstorming back 9 in a major - to win it!! Not like Westwood/Donald et al: take 3 days getting yourself (respectively) out of/into contention then to produce a moderate last round to snaffle a top 5 finish and complain how unlucky you were.

  • Comment number 93.

    # 91 As I thought. No suggestions are coming.

 

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