Can Englishman Luke Donald win his first major championship this week at the PGA Championship? He is among the favorites, as usual, for the tournament at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina.
Donald goes into the PGA Championship as the No. 1 player in the world, the product of a tremendous short game, a lot of hard work and the consistency required to top the world ranking. But even while playing his best golf, in Olympic terms, he still hasn’t even been on the podium yet.
He was playing his best golf in the spring, headed to the Masters and then didn’t break par until the final round, when it was too late. Poised to make a run at his first major in the U.S. Open, he missed the cut. Before an English crowd at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Donald was 10 shots out of the lead going into the last round. He closed with a 69 to tie for fifth, a small consolation.
Starting with the 1997 Masters, only six players have been No. 1 going into a major, with Woods leading the way in 51 of those 64 majors. Next on that list is Donald. The PGA Championship is his seventh major as the No. 1 player.
Last week, Donald tied for eighth at Firestone although he was the only inside the top 15 that didn’t break par in either round on the weekend. He ranks 18th on the PGA Tour in fairways hit, 12th in scrambling and ninth in bogey avoidance.
World ranking: 1.
Worldwide wins: 11.
Best 2012 performances: Won the BMW PGA Championship and the Transitions Championship.
2012 majors: Masters-T32, US Open-Cut, British Open-T5.
Odds to win: +1000
Overview: The good news is that he has been No. 1 at the last six majors. All that does is bring more attention to the fact that he has not won a major yet. Only Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros have been No. 1 longer than Donald, and all of them had won a major before reaching the top of the ranking. His tie for fifth at the British Open was back door material, but it showed a resilient side to Donald. He needs to be straight off the tee, especially if Kiawah is playing long.