Luke Donald received his MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) on Friday at Buckingham Palace.
The MBE is an order of chivalry – it was established by George V in 1917 -- which honors civilians and service personnel for public service and other distinctions.
Donald was recognized for his accomplishments in golf, including spending a cumulative 55 weeks to date at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings.
During the 2011 season, Luke was the first to top the money lists on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour. He has also has helped raise funds for the First Tee organization, an association which has to date introduced the game of golf and its inherent values to the more than 7 million young people.
“I am truly honored to be awarded an MBE by her Majesty,” Donald said. “Both personally and professionally, 2011 and 2012 were very significant seasons for me and I’m touched that my accomplishments have been recognized in this way.”
He received this award in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of his contributions to professional golf and his role as a global ambassador for Britain.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- No one has ever successfully defended at THE PLAYERS Championship, where Matt Kuchar will begin his quest to become the first to do so this afternoon.
With pristine conditions -- sunny skies, hardly a breath of wind -- scoring has been good so far in the opening round at TPC Sawgrass. Will it continue? Here is a look at who and what to watch for this afternoon.
Lee Westwood (1:18 p.m. ET): The Englishman has knocked on the door a few times here -- most recently in 2010 when he was in contention going into Sunday before shooting 74 to finish fourth. He also finished fifth and sixth in 1998 and 1999 and given his ball-striking abilities should be a factor again.
Phil Mickelson (1:28 p.m. ET): As difficult as this tournament -- or Mickelson -- is to predict, Lefty has been largely consistent if nothing else since his win here in 2007. He's finished in the top 25 every other year the last five and for his career has eight top 25s in the event.
Webb Simpson (1:28 p.m. ET): The reigning U.S. Open champion admitted to a lack of confidence earlier this season. Then he finished second at Hilton Head, where he lost in a playoff. He's missed three of four cuts here, however.
Sergio Garcia (1:39 p.m. ET): The 2008 champion (he also finished second the year before) has just one finish in the top 20 since, but he has played well this year with three top 10s. His ball-striking should work well here, but with Garcia it all comes down to how well he putts.
Luke Donald (1:39 p.m. ET): The former world No. 1 finished sixth last year and tied for fourth the year before with all of last last eight rounds and 11 of his last 12 on the Stadium Course at par or better.
Tiger Woods (1:49 p.m. ET): For all his accomplishments, Woods has won THE PLAYERS just once, in 2001. Though he has three wins this season, he has just one top 10 here since that lone victory a dozen years ago.
Matt Kuchar (1:49 p.m. ET):The defending champion has finished in the top 15 in three of the last four years and in 2004 he tied for 16th. This season, Kuchar has four top 10s, including a win.
Brandt Snedeker (1:49 p.m. ET): He was admittedly exhausted after being in contention at the Masters and subsequently missed the cut in Hilton Head. He was also one of the hottest players in the game before getting injured in February. Snedeker has struggled here, missing the cut each of the last four years.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- With increasing wind and bad weather headed this way, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell were among those to take advantage of a morning tee time Friday at Harbour Town.
Donald, who lost here in a playoff two years ago, carded a 68 to enter the weekend 5 under and near the top of the leaderboard.
McDowell was one better with a 67 to get to 4 under.
Here's a look at what they had to say after their rounds.
Donald on feeling better about his game in the second round: "(Thursday) was a little bit of a struggle. I didn't really have much control over the trajectory of my shots. The greens are still holding, which is nice. So you can attack some of the pins.
"I managed my game very well. I kind of didn't feel very comfortable over the ball, but I missed it in spots that I needed to miss it. It wasn't terrible golf, it just wasn't controlling trajectory like I'd like to, when you know you're not under control."
McDowell on how Harbour Town suits his style of play: It is a golf course that sets up well for me. You don't have to move it very far off the tee, but you have to position it really well. And you have to play patient golf, which suits my type of play.
"It doesn't need to be long. Modern technology has not sort of made this golf course old‑fashioned in any shape or form. Sometimes the fairway is not good enough, you have to be on the left side or the right side, 300 yards might be too much and 250 might not be enough at times. The guy that wins here this week will have control of his golf ball."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The 77th Masters began a couple of hours ago, outlined against a gray April sky that is hanging heavy over Augusta National. Even heavier is the expectation for Tiger Woods to capture a fifth career Green Jacket.
Woods will tee off at 10:34 a.m. ET alongside Luke Donald and Scott Piercy. Here is a closer look at that group, and a couple of other notable ones this morning.
Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Ryo Ishikawa, 9:17 a.m.: As dominant as Sean Foley's prized pupil Woods has been this season, Rose hasn't been too shabby himself. In his three stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR this year, he hasn't finished outside the top 8, which included a runner-up to Woods at Bay Hill. While he hasn't had a ton of success here -- just two career top 10s -- the one thing that's held Rose back, putting, has at times been very good this season. While Rose has momentum, Snedeker is just the opposite, having arrived here off two missed cuts following five weeks off due to a rib injury in February. Still, Snedeker's short game plays well here and he's contended before, in 2008 when he entered the final round two strokes off the lead before shooting a 77.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 10:34 a.m.: Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods are the only ones to successfully defend here. That doesn't dissuade Watson, though. "As a competitor, as a believer in my game, yeah, I can see pulling it off," Watson said. "It wouldn't shock me. I would still cry, but it wouldn't shock me. The way I look at it, I'm going out there and I want to make the cut because first off, I don't want to have to sit around and give somebody the green jacket. I want to be here on Sunday, playing." Poulter, meanwhile, said earlier this week the Masters is his best chance at a major. Two of the last three years he's finished in the top 10, including in 2010 when he had a share of the lead at the halfway point.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 10:45 a.m.: Woods hasn't won here since 2005, but he's been in contention several times since. Only once during that time has he finished outside the top 6 -- last year, when he had a career-low tie for 40th. He's won three times this year and comes into the week leading the TOUR in strokes gained-putting. Donald has had his chances here with three career top 10s. One of those came in 2011. Donald shot in the 60s in his last three rounds that year and was in contention on Sunday until Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win.
Luke Donald watches a chip scoot toward the hole at the 2012 Masters.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tee to green, Luke Donald is the same player who spent 56 weeks atop the Official World Golf Ranking. Once he gets on the putting surface, though, the Englishman has been surprisingly middle of the pack this season.
Donald has spent three of the last five seasons ranked first in the PGA TOUR's definitive Strokes-Gained Putting statistic. And the other two? Well, he ranked second in 2008 and third a year ago.
But the man with the normally flawless short game ranks a distant 75th in the same category this year. Donald only has one top-10 in four starts on TOUR this year, a tie for fourth at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by Everbank where he says he played "easily well enough to win" tee-to-green but just couldn't get the ball in the hole.
"I've been working hard on that the last couple weeks working on speed, little adjustments in setup, but I think that's a big focus for this week," Donald said. "If I can get the ball rolling into the hole and see the ball going in a little bit more, then that's usually a good indication I'm going to have a good week."
Nowhere is that more important than at Augusta National. And Donald's record in the season's first major is solid if not spectacular with three top-10s in nine appearances, including a tie for third in his 2005 debut and a share of fourth two years ago.
Not surprisingly, Donald ranked fourth and first, respectively, in putting those years. So regaining a comfort zone with his putter will be key this week but the entire short game has been an area of emphasis since Donald arrived in Augusta on Friday with his long-time coach Pat Goss.
"Technique around the greens and speed control -- I think that's the biggest thing around here for me to be successful," Donald said. "I think the grass around this green is quite sticky; it's shortish but it's still tricky to chip off and you need very good technique to be able to do that to be able to create the right strike and the right contact.
"You get so many different shots where you're not quite sure which club to hit around these greens, and obviously familiarity and technique helps. And obviously knowing the greens and learning the speed and seeing the ball just drop in. I'm not a putter that likes to hit the ball hard and I think having fast greens probably is a benefit for me because of that."
Donald comes to Augustra National fresh off a two-week break. Equally important, he's also free from the kind of expectations that attend a player ranked No. 1 in the world -- those of fans as well as some the five-time PGA TOUR winner might have put on himself.
"My results haven't been what I wanted, but someone who had such a great 2011, pretty good 2012, I know the ability is there," Donald said. "It's just being patient, waiting for my turn to come. It's frustrating sometimes, but you know, I think when you have that background of good results in the past, that you know that good things are going to happen.
"You just keep working hard and playing through some of those tough times, and it will turn around."
Check out the shots of the week from the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank and the Toshiba Classic, featuring Luke Donald, Mark O'Meara, Dicky Pride, Kevin Streelman and Webb Simpson.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Don’t sleep on defending champion Luke Donald on Sunday at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
Donald carded a bogey-free 4-under 67 Saturday to reach the clubhouse at 4-under, leaving him tied for eighth, two back of co-leaders Kevin Streelman, Justin Leonard and George Coetzee at Innisbrook.
"It was nice to go around this course not make a mistake, not drop a shot, and you know, I wanted to shoot five or six under, nearly got there, a couple missed putts and didn't birdie any par fives," Donald said. "Could have been a really low round today. But yeah, certainly moving in the right direction, as I said, I feel like my game has been close, and obviously starting to show with some results"
A year ago, Donald entered the final round tied for seventh and, three back of co-leaders Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen. All he did from there was post a Sunday 66 before defeating Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Sang-moon Bae in a playoff.
That finish pushed Donald from 85th to 12th in the FedExCup standings. The Englishman would go on to finish ninth – his third consecutive top-10 – in the final FedExCup standings.
This season, Donald is off to a slow start by his standards, with no top-15 finishes in his first three events. A successful title defense at Innisbrook, however, could move him from 95th into the top 20 once again.
"It's a fine line between success and finishing 30th," Donald said. "I think a lot of my fans and myself, you know, have always expected me to see me in the Top‑10 and up at the top of the leaderboard every week and sometimes golf is just not that easy."
Another solid round Sunday and Donald's fans will get to see him finish inside the top 10 for the first time in 2013.
Luke Donald made bogeys on Nos. 6, 8 and 9 after opening 4 under through 14 holes on Thursday.
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Count Thursday as another head-scratcher for Luke Donald.
The English pro reached 4-under through the first 14 holes of his Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank defense, only to stumble home with three bogeys over his last four at Innisbrook’s Copperhead layout.
“I’m extremely disappointed right now,” Donald said. “I had it really under control and could have been 6 or 7 under with a couple putts. Obviously to finish like that, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.”
Donald couldn’t salvage par after driving in the rough at the par-4 sixth hole, but the bigger aggravation came at Nos. 8 and 9.
After finding a bunker off the tee at the par-3 eighth, he couldn’t knock down a 7-foot par attempt. He went back into the sand at No. 9, but his escape barely crept onto the putting surface.
Donald’s round comes on the heels of an exasperating performance at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, where he led the field in proximity to the hole at the TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral but wound up in a tie for 43rd.
“I saw that Tiger (Woods) hit 50 greens; I counted up mine and I hit 48,” he said.
A big chunk of the difference can be attributed to the TPC Blue Monster’s daunting 18th, where he left the green all four days writing down a double bogey.
“It is a tough hole,” he said. “Once you get into a routine of having a couple of doubles on Thursday and Friday, it starts to play on your mind a little bit. I obviously didn’t do a good enough job of shutting that out. But that hole aside, it was a decent tournament.”
Two former champions are among those setting the pace as the morning wave heads to the back nine in the first round of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
Defending champion Luke Donald and K.J. Choi, who has won the tournament twice, are playing togethyer and both are 3 under. Also tied at the top of the leaderboard is Brendan Steele.
World Golf Hall of Famer Vijay Singh also has played 13 holes and is tied at 2 under with Chez Reavie and Peter Tomasulo. Nick Watney, Ryan Palmer and PGA TOUR rookie Patrick Reed are among eight players tied at 1 under.
Former champion Jim Furyk, who lost in a playoff last year, is even par through 13 holes while Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer are also at that number.
Luke Donald, the defending champion of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, talks with the media on the eve of the tournament.