Furyk making his own bid Sunday at Harbour Town

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April 23, 2011
Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

POST-ROUND INTERVIEWS: Donald | Furyk | PGA TOUR TODAY: Round 4 preview

HILTON HEAD, S.C. -- Depending on what happens Sunday at The Heritage, there could be a new No. 1 ranked player, or some enlightened discussion about the subject.

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Luke Donald, currently ranked third in the world, has a one-shot lead going into the final round at Harbour Town, where he will overtake Martin Kaymer and leap past his friend Lee Westwood with a win. Donald has tried all week to downplay the prospects of accomplishing that feat, other than to admit it would be pretty cool.

Donald could also take over the top spot in the FedExCup rankings.

But if Jim Furyk, the No. 1-ranked Pittsburgh Steelers fan on the PGA TOUR, should win on Sunday and win The Heritage for the second straight year, why shouldn't he get a little more consideration to be considered the best in the world?

Furyk won three times last year, including The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and he was the 2010 PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Shouldn't he get some sort of consideration when it comes to placing players in the right pecking order?

"I'll be as simple and blunt and honest as I can be, I really don't care," Furyk said. "I think I've been on record, the guy that looks over the World Golf Ranking, I've been in the same room with him and he's been disgusted by me saying it."

The point is moot, since the World Rankings are based on a mathematical formula of performance over the last two years. That's why Tiger Woods was able to hang onto the No. 1 spot for nearly a year, despite barely making a ripple on the landscape throughout 2010. The top spot is beginning to change hands with more frequency now since no one has established their dominance.

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It should be fun to watch Donald and Furyk in their head-to-head battle at Harbour Town. Sure, there are 11 players within four shots of the lead and any of them have a chance to post a great round and steal the spotlight. But most of the attention will stay focused on Donald and Furyk.

There is a little history between the two men.

Furyk beat Donald by a stroke to win The TOUR Championship last fall; they were tied after two rounds, Furyk led by a shot after 54 holes and got up and down from a bunker on the 72nd hole to win.

Donald then came back to beat Furyk 1 up in their Ryder Cup singles match and help the European team reclaim the trophy in Wales.

It should all make for some interesting Sunday afternoon viewing.

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"We've had some good battles over the last couple of years," Donald said. "Obviously he got me at the FedEx, at the TOUR Championship, and I got a little revenge at the Ryder Cup. But I think there's a bunch of people behind us that have a good chance, too. So I don't county anyone else out."

But if Furyk prevails, does his name need to enter the discussion? He's currently No. 13, which is difficult to fathom. He's more than happy to let someone else debate the issue.

"I understand being ranked No. 1 and I've always said it would be cool. Even if it was for a week, to say at one time I was ranked No. 1 in the world," Furyk said. "I had the No. 2 spot for 16-18 months and quite honestly I didn't really enjoy it that much."

Donald and Westwood have exchanged electronic messages this week, each wishing the other luck. (Westwood is playing in Malaysia this week.) Both know what could happen.

"Obviously we're a long way apart right now in terms of where we are, but we never wish bad on each other," Donald said. "I think I have an opportunity go out there and win and, if I do, then I know what's going to happen."

If he doesn't close the deal, let the No. 1 debate start in earnest -- again.

Stan Awtrey is a freelance columnist for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the PGA TOUR.

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