News & ToursMay 23, 2011

GW Monday: Is Donald the world's top golfer?

From this week's edition of Golf World Monday:

Clearly, I was wrong about Luke Donald. Opining in Golf World's Jan. 17 issue on the 11 players with the best shot of reaching No. 1 in the world, I made a point of dismissing the 33-year-old Englishman, ranked ninth in the time, while giving a nod to lower ranked names like Els, McIlroy, Johnson and Poulter.

My reasons: Donald is relatively short and crooked with the driver, and since 2002 had only five victories on the PGA and European tours combined.

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(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Well, Donald still hasn't made it to No. 1 (by the barest of margins), but this year, he has been the best player in the world. With seven straight top 10s on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Accenture title and T-4s at the Masters and the Players, no one has been more consistent. His driving has improved and his iron game remained stalwart, but where Donald has separated himself from his peers is with his wedges and putter.

Perhaps most important, his work with performance coach Dave Alred, who comes from the world of English rugby, has made him tougher. Always mild-mannered, the 5-9, 160-pound Donald now carries himself with something approaching a cocky smirk.

Even in losing in sudden death at Hilton Head and falling to Ian Poulter in Sunday's Volvo Match Play final (when winning either would have made him No. 1), he's gotten past the disappointment by staying focused on improvement. If he keeps that up, No. 1 will be a byproduct.

*--Jaime Diaz

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