To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here.
2013 PREVIEW: He's ticked off nearly all the boxes. No. 1 in the world? Check. Money titles on both sides of the Atlantic? Check. So what is left for Donald to do in 2013? How about win a major? The steady Brit certainly has the tools and the temperament.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Donald picked up his fifth PGA TOUR title when he closed with a 66 to come from three strokes off the pace and win a four-man playoff at the Transitions Championship. He also successfully defending his title at the BMW Championship and picking up his seventh international win at the Dunlop Phoenix. Still, winning the Ryder Cup in his adopted hometown of Chicago had to be especially satisfying -- particularly as the leadoff man on that historic Sunday where he beat Bubba Watson and evened his record at 2-2 for the week. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: I'm a little puzzled as to why he hasn't won a major. Great ball-striker, great short game. Bill Haas told me when he struggles with tempo; he tries to visualize Donald's swing. How's that for a compliment? Luke is the early favorite to win the BMW as the tournament moves to his home course in Chicago. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: His 16-for-17 season with eight top 10s served as an acceptable answer to an insane 2011. Tumbled to $3.5 million in 2012, but he still owns the firepower to snipe a win and a handful of top fives. Perhaps most underrated is that he continued to drive the ball wonderfully off the tee. While his splits for birdies or better on par 3s and 4s took a hit, he still feasted on the par 5s, ranking 18th. If you're forced to grab him in the first round -- because that's where he's going to go anyway -- complement him with an American that plays a full schedule on the flip trip of snake drafts. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Facebook
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||1st||Transitions Championship|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 16
Rounds played: 62
Top-10 finishes: 8
Money List rank: 14th
Driving distance: 170th
Driving accuracy: 37th
Greens in regulation: 100th
Strokes gained-putting: 3rd
Scoring average: 10th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Luke Donald in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know
On the first playoff hole of the Transitions Championship, Luke Donald sticks his approach from the rough to four feet. He would make the putt and earn his fifth PGA TOUR title.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Luke Donald, who won last year’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to finish atop the PGA TOUR money list, won’t be back to defend his title in the season-ending event due to a scheduled medical procedure for one of his children.
“I’m very sorry that I will be unable to defend my title at this year’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic as that tournament was an important highlight for me in 2011,” Donald said Monday in a release. “My career as a golfer places many demands on my schedule, and I’m often forced to miss some precious time with my family as I travel to play around the world, but in this case, home is where I have to be. I wanted to be able to express my appreciation for everything that Children’s Miracle Network means to us and am happy to be able to support their work. I wish them a very successful tournament next month.”
In lieu of his appearance, Donald made a donation to Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, a Children’s Miracle Network hospital.
“Of course we will miss having our defending champion, Luke Donald, in the field this Fall, but everyone associated with Children’s Miracle Network and Disney understand the importance of being there to support family,” said tournament director Kevin Weickel. “I would hope that every one of us, in a similar position, would do the same thing and we offer our full support to Luke and his family.”
Donald finished his 2012 season on the PGA TOUR 16th in the FedExCup standings and 14th on the money list with one win (Transitions Championship) and seven other top 10s.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- Luke Donald is one of the few, if not the only player, to ever have an honest-to-goodness home game at the Ryder Cup. Of course, the Englishman who lives 25 miles from Medinah plays for the European Team and this is American soil.
"Hopefully I can garner a little bit of the support from the crowd because of that and turn that into a slight advantage for Team Europe,” Donald said. “but it is a unique experience for me.”
Donald first came to Chicago 15 years ago to attend Northwestern. He won the NCAA title as a junior and was a three-time All-American, providing the foundation for a standout pro career that assured he wouldn't have to put that degree in art theory to work.
"I think I'd be probably living in a different suburb than I am now, let put it that way," Donald said with a smile.
Of course, Donald originally had hoped to play collegiately at Stanford. When things didn't work out, Wally Goodwin, who was The Cardinal coach at the time, suggested Donald look at Northwestern where he used to work.
"I came for a visit and just really liked what I saw, and that's how I came here really," said Donald, who maintains an interest in Wildcat athletics -- even to the point of knowing the football team plays Indiana on Saturday.
"I know there's been talk of us maybe going 6‑0, 7‑0 to start the season, which would be great for Northwestern, and as an alum, I'm always keeping an eye on things."
Donald married an American, who is showing the other European wives the sights of the city this week, and has two young daughters. But make no mistake, as much as he likes the culture and sports in Chicago, Donald feels right in step with the European Team.
"I always consider myself British through and through," Donald said. "I've obviously reaped the benefits of going through the college system over here, really helped me with my golf, and I enjoy living here and I feel very comfortable here, but I don't think that changes how you feel about where you grew up. And I grew up my first 19 years in England and still have a very close relationship with that country, with my country."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
With Europe having won four of the last five Ryder Cups, it begs the question: Just w hy has Europe won four of the last five Ryder Cups?
Ian Poulter isn’t really sure why Europe has been so dominant, but the Englishman has his theories.
“We’re all very comfortable with each other in the team room and as people and personalities,” Poulter said.
That’s not to suggest the U.S. team isn’t, but there is a certain “edge,” as Poulter puts it, Europe has in attitude toward the biennial matches.
“It’s not that we don’t like each other,” Poulter said. “But there’s something about the Ryder Cup; boy do you want to kill them in the Ryder Cup. It’s passion like I’ve never seen before.”
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at who I think are the five best match-play performers from either side going into this year’s matches. You’ll notice there’s a decidedly European theme, which perhaps best explains why Europe has beaten the U.S. more often than not of late.
Sergio Garcia (Europe): The Spaniard lives for the Ryder Cup and it has shown in the form of a 14-6-4 record in five appearances. Three times Garcia has helped lead Europe to victory, including in 2006 in the most lopsided victory ever when Europe crushed the U.S. 18 1/2 to 9 1/2. Garcia won his two Four-ball and two Foursome matches each of the first two days before finally losing to Stewart Cink in singles, but by then the outcome was well in hand. Garcia didn’t qualify for the last Ryder Cup, and he went 0-2-2 in 2008, so he’ll be plenty motivated this year. He’s also in a much better place mentally than in recent years and is one of the best drivers and ball-strikers in the game. His putter also seems to turn into some sort of magical sword every two years.
Ian Poulter (Europe): When it comes to the Ryder Cup, Poulter is golf’s version of former NBA sharpshooter and resident villain Reggie Miller. Both love showmanship and the big stage and usually play their best on it. Poulter is 8-3, including 3-0 in singles play, in three Ryder Cups. Poulter doesn’t really know why he’s been so successful in match play -- he also has two individual match play titles having won the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Volvo World Match Play Championship -- but his ball-striking and passion are two things than can wear an opponent down. Expect Poulter to have another big Ryder Cup this year.
Tiger Woods (U.S.): It’s hard to believe Woods has been on just one victorious Ryder Cup team in his career -- 1999 at Brookline (he missed 2008 due to injury). He’s also just 13-14-2 in six appearances in the biennial matches. His 14 matches lost ranks as the fourth-most in U.S. team history. That said, Woods is still one of the deadliest match play opponents on the planet, dating back to his days as an amateur when he won three consecutive U.S. Am titles. He also hasn’t lost a singles match in the Ryder Cup since his first year, 1997, and is 6-3 in his last three Ryder Cups. Woods is playing well right now, too, with three wins this season, and ranks seventh in total driving on the PGA TOUR, 19th in greens in regulation and fourth in birdie average. Those stats will go a long way at a Medinah course that will be tailored to the U.S. style of play. Lastly, a budding rivalry with Rory McIlroy seems to have spurred Woods.
Luke Donald (Europe): In three Ryder Cups, Donald is a stellar 8-2-1 and has never played on a losing team. He’s unbeaten in foursomes with a 6-0 mark and has only lost one singles match -- in 2004 at Oakland Hills in his first appearance. His form hasn’t been great this year, but he’s still one of the straightest players off the tee and an incredibly good putter. This year’s matches are also a home game for Donald, who lives in Chicago.
Brandt Snedeker (U.S.): I’m going out on a limb a bit here with Snedeker because others boast better resumes, he’s never played any sort of team match play his entire career and he’s a Ryder Cup rookie. But the latter is in name only and his resume this year has been impressive with victories in San Diego and Atlanta, not to mention the season-long FedExCup. What I like most, though, is that he is the best putter on either team and that can be completely demoralizing to an opponent in match play. At last week’s TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Snedeker was first in putting, second in driving accuracy and seventh in greens in regulation. His game and personality can be paired with pretty much anyone and he’ll mesh well in the locker room. I think he’ll have the biggest impact of any rookie on either team.
What's your take? Discuss below.
Check out the top five shots of the week from the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola featuring highlights from Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods.
The Brit talks about how his game sets up for the FedExCup finale at East Lake.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Luke Donald is right where he wants to be. He just has a bigger mountain to climb at East Lake than he has the past two years.
Donald enters this week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola ranked 15th in the FedExCup. A year ago, he came in fourth and controlled his own destiny while in 2010, Donald was nearly as close at No. 7.
It's a different mindset, to be sure. But the goal is still the same. Donald needs to win on Sunday to make a successful run at a come-from-behind FedExCup title like Bill Haas accomplished from the 25th spot a year ago.
Donald, though, should have confidence this week. He's had three top-10 finishes at East Lake in five starts there, including a tie for third last season and solo second in 2010.
"I think it's everyone's goal at the beginning of the year to
make sure you get to East Lake, to be in that top 30 to have the
chance to win the FedExCup," Donald said. "I've obviously had some
success here. I haven't won this event, but I've come close a few
times. I feel like it's a course that sets up pretty well for me. I
enjoy this week.
"Obviously, a little bit different from the last two years. I'm a little bit further back in the pack, but I still have a chance. We saw that the last couple FedExCups. No matter where you are, you still have a chance to win, and I'll be trying hard to do that, and finish my PGA TOUR season on a high note."
Donald has had another solid campaign -- winning for the fifth time on TOUR and posting seven top-10 finishes. That said, the man who was world No. 1 for most of the year has high standards, and he knew it would be hard to follow up last year's career-defining season when he was named PGA TOUR Player of the Year and won the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic.
A FedExCup title might do the trick, though.
"If a victory (at East Lake) also won me the FedExCup, I think
that's different to just a victory not winning me the FedExCup,"
Donald said. "I think another victory would mean another piece of
silverware that added to a solid year. You win the FedExCup, it
turns into a bit better than that.
"I've certainly been on the side a couple years ago or even last year where I lost by a shot and had a good chance, and someone from way back in the pack came and snatched the FedExCup. Now I've kind of got that chance this week, and that's exciting."
All times Eastern.
Tuesday, Sept. 18
11 a.m. -- Jim Furyk (No. 18)
1 p.m. -- 2012 Payne Stewart Award winner revealed
Wednesday, Sept. 19
Tiger Woods (No. 2) – Following morning sponsor breakfast
Rory McIlroy (No. 1) – Following morning sponsor breakfast
10 a.m. – Nick Watney (No. 3)
11:15 a.m. – John Huh (No. 26)
1 p.m. – Luke Donald (No. 15)
2:30 p.m. – PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem
Phil Mickelson (No. 4)
Brandt Snedeker (No. 5)
The top 30 in FedExCup points are headed to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Here’s a look at Luke Donald, one of the 30 players who will contend for the FedExCup title.
SCENARIOS TO WIN FEDEXCUP: For Donald to win the
FedExCup, he MUST win the TOUR Championship and have the following
scenarios fall into place:
> Rory McIlroy (No. 1) finishes in a 9-way tie for 6th or worse
> Tiger Woods (No. 2) finishes in a 3-way tie for 4th or worse
> Nick Watney (No. 3) must finish fourth or worse
> Phil Mickelson (No. 4) and Brandt Snedeker (No. 5) must finish third or worse
> *Tie for the FedExCup
Click here for scenarios of every player
SEASON IN REVIEW: It's hard to follow a career year like Donald had in 2011, winning twice, posting four other top-3 finishes and earning PGA TOUR Player of the Year honors. That said, the 2012 campaign was yet another solid one for Donald, who held down the No. 1 spot in the world for the better part of the year until Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship. He closed with a 66 to erase a three-shot deficit and win the Transitions Championship in a playoff, his fifth PGA TOUR victory. His tie for 10th at The Barclays was Donald's seventh top-10 of the season. -- Helen Ross
PATH TO TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Here’s a look at
Donald’s results in the first three events of the 2012
Click here for Playoffs Tracker of every player.
|FEC ranking after event||
PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES: Here is how Donald has finished in previous Playoffs appearances:
EAST LAKE HISTORY: Each of the last two years, Donald has finished in the top 3 at East Lake. In 2006, the year before the Playoffs began, he tied for fifth there. He’s made it to Atlanta five times in all.
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Fred Albers, on-course
correspondent for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, provides a quick look at
I love watching him play and like talking to him following the round. He is very intelligent and "sneaky" long. Long par fours at East Lake are not a problem.
PLAYER PAGE: Click here for more on Luke Donald
Now it’s your turn. How do you think Donald will fare at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola?