US Open: Luke Donald eyes maiden major at Congressional

Luke Donald says he would swap his world number one ranking for Phil Mickelson's haul of four major wins.

England's Donald, 33, begins his US Open campaign on Thursday after 15 top-10 finishes in his last 16 tournaments.

Still without a major trophy, Donald said: "Being number one is a great achievement, but I would love to take his majors and number of victories.

"I'll continue to feed off all the good things that got me to number one and hopefully I can add to my wins."

Donald will begin his quest for a first major title at 1306 BST on Thursday in the same group as world number three and compatriot Lee Westwood and another former number one Martin Kaymer of Germany at the Congressional County Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

The US-based Donald beat Westwood in a play-off at the PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, and by doing so took the number-one spot from his 38-year-old Ryder Cup team-mate. Donald also beat Kaymer in the final of the WGC Match Play event in February.

With two victories on the US Tour and three wins on the European Tour before this season, Donald added: "It's dangerous to go and expect too much and come to a tournament expecting to win.

"But I expect to do what I know I can do. The goal is always to have a chance on Sunday and to contend. I've been doing that a lot lately, and there's no reason why I can't do it this week."

Westwood is another player desperate to break his duck in the majors, but with three third places and two runners-up finishes in his last 11 starts, he will be one of the favourites to win at the weekend.

The world number two, who was 19th on his US Open debut at the same Congressional venue 14 years ago, said: "My game is good enough and if I just do a few things differently at the right times then it'll be the difference between a second and a win.

"If you're any good and mentally right you learn to try and take the positives out of anything, even when you maybe finish second. You try to look at it on the bright side and I think I've managed to do that over the last few years."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy will be hoping to hit back in the majors after his closing 80 from four in front at the Masters in April.

Despite Ernie Els hailing the 22-year-old from Holywood as a genuine contender at Congressional, McIlroy said: "There's no point in everyone saying you're going to be a major champion when you're not one.

"You have to go out and prove them right and prove to yourself that you deserve to be one. I just need to go out and play the golf that everyone thinks I'm capable of."

McIlroy, ranked eighth in the world, begins his first round at 1835 BST, playing alongside Mickelson and fellow American Dustin Johnson.

Northern Ireland's champion Graeme McDowell revealed he was "buzzing" as he prepared to defend his title, and he gets going at 1255 BST with American amateur Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, the Open champion.

Mickelson is still looking for his first US Open win in 20 attempts, but with five second-placed finishes, the three-time Masters champion is in buoyant mood.

"It took me six, seven, eight years to really get into contention and have a great opportunity to win," said the world number five, who claimed his 39th PGA Tour title at the Houston Open in April.

"Since then, I've figured out how to manage myself around, control my misses and salvage pars the hard way.

"I'm not going to play perfect golf, I'm not going to hit every fairway but there are times I can manage it and that's allowed me to be in contention a number of times."

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