Tag:luke donald
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:08 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 12:03 pm

What would a win mean for each of these players?

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood pose in China. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

The WGC-Cadillac Championship kicks off this Thursday, and all top-50 players are in the field for the stacked event. And while all of the guys in the field have a chance, we decided to give you an idea of what a win would mean for some of the bigger names in the field. 

Rory McIlroy (World Ranking: 1) -- A win would really cement all those “next Tiger” stories, and show that while he’s happy to win events like Honda Classic, he isn’t exactly content with one win early in his season. Rory probably has the most pressure this week because he has to back up a big performance at the Honda, and if he can pull a victory out at Doral, it would really show his internal fortitude. 

Luke Donald (WR: 2) -- Lost in all this McIlroy-Woods chatter, we must remember that Donald was the No. 1 player in the world before Rory took it from him, and still has tons of game. A win by Donald would show that he’s tougher than we think, and is really ready to fight against the best for big wins. 

Lee Westwood (WR: 3) -- Talk about lost in the shuffle, Westwood closed with a final round 63 at the Honda Classic, but barely anybody remembered it because of Tiger’s 62. He has barely won anything on American soil, but his game is sharp, and if he won it would mean that he is finally ready to claim victory at events with all the big names in them.

Phil Mickelson (WR: 12) -- You never know what you’re going to get from Lefty these days, but his win at Pebble Beach showed he is still hungry to win, and a victory at Doral this week would show that 2012 might be another year that Mickelson goes wild. He’s the type of player that can still win four or five events a season, and if he won at the Blue Monster, we’d all have to put him first on our Masters prediction lists.

Tiger Woods (WR: 16) --  A win for Tiger? It would mean everything. He could stop answering questions about how close he is. He could finally get a real tournament monkey off his back (unlike the small field at the Chevron). He would show that he can play well back-to-back weeks and would tell the rest of the golfing world that he isn’t exactly ready to hand over the game to the younger generation. 

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:19 pm

Winners and losers from a great match play week

Hunter Mahan leads our list of winners from the Accenture Match Play. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

The Accenture Match Play is our first really big tournament of the season, and with so many talented people involved, it brings us our first winners/losers of 2012. So who killed, and who tanked? Read on and see ...


Hunter Mahan -- Obviously. Mahan played some incredibly inspired golf, beating some big names in the game and stepping up to Rory McIlory, who was playing for something much bigger than just the Marana trophy. Also, with his recent Presidents Cup success, Mahan has shown he’s a match play titan, and is music to Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III’s ears. 

Ping Golf -- They had three of the top four finishers rocking their new equipment, and the talk of the week was Mahan’s new Nome putter that seemed to help Hunter knock in just about any big putt he needed to make. 

Mark Wilson -- This guy needs to be known more than he is, and this week showed that no matter how short he hits it off the tee, his iron play and short game are second to none. Wilson has won three PGA Tour events in just over 13 months. People need to start acknowledging him as an A-class player in golf. 

Sang-Moon Bae -- Look at the list of players Bae knocked off before losing to Rory Mcilroy; Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, and John Senden. Sure, the last wasn’t the biggest name possible, but Bae made McIlroy sweat, and showed that he’s a name we must remember when major championship week rolls around. 


Rory McIlroy -- Yes, he made it to the finals, and yes, he nearly became the top dog in golf, but if McIlroy wants to be The Man, he must close these types of tournaments out. He has played some incredible golf over the last few months, but winning is everything, and his game in the finals seemed shaky at best. 

Tiger Woods -- Anytime Tiger isn’t in the hunt he’s considered a loser, but boy did he look lost this week with his golf swing. When the season started I thought Woods was close with his game. Now? I’m not so sure even he could be convinced he’s ready to win a PGA Tour tournament. 

Luke Donald -- You’re the number one ranked golfer in the world, and no matter who you’re playing, you can’t lose in the first round of a tournament you’re defending. Donald showed that while the rankings say he’s the best, his game might not agree. 

Rickie Fowler -- Another week, another disappointment. I think Fowler is a good player, but it seems his name rings louder than his game. Fowler lost in the first round to a veteran that admitted after his match that he’d spent the last week away from golf. Not the best endorsement for Fowler’s time to win PGA Tour events. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter.
Posted on: February 22, 2012 6:27 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:19 am

The biggest surprises on Wednesday at Accenture

Luke Donald takes a drop during his match against Ernie Els. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

Unlike March Madness, the Accenture Match Play is easily the biggest toss up in sports. Rankings? They’re meaningless, and anything can happen. That said, we give you our five biggest upsets of the first round of play. 

Ernie Els defeats Luke Donald -- It wasn’t that Donald was a top seed and Els came in the rugged vet holding a 16 seed, but it was a guy most had forgotten about beating the defending champion and world number one in the world! Els played great, and could definitely make a run here after gaining some confidence by smoking past Donald 5 and 4. 

Miguel Angel-Jimenez defeats Sergio Garcia -- Most thought Sergio, coming off a final round 64 at Riviera to tower up the leaderboard, would be a good pick to possibly upset Rory McIlroy in their side of the draw, but he couldn’t even get out of the first round, falling to his fellow Spaniard. The bright side of things? At least his blue shoes looked good.

David Toms defeats Rickie Fowler -- No, the seeds weren’t far apart (No. 8 vs. No. 9), but Toms openly admitted he hasn’t spent much time on his golf game. That didn’t stop him from taking out fan-favorite Fowler 1-up and giving himself a shot at Martin Kaymer in the next round. 

Ryo Ishikawa defeats Bill Haas -- It isn’t easy coming to an event like this after a gutsy win like Haas had last week, but it seemed like he’d roll Ishikawa after being 3-up with five holes to play. Ryo won four of the next five holes and advanced in the one PGA Tour event he seems the most comfortable in. 

Sang-Moon Bae defeats Ian Poulter -- There aren’t a lot of guys you’d call match play specialists, but Poulter is one of them, so to have him fall to such an unknown like Bae is a head-scratcher.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter. 
Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:33 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 1:23 pm

Matches we'd love to see at the Accenture

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy shake hands earlier this season in Abu Dhabi. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

We know, we know, predicting things in golf is absolutely impossible, but the interesting nature of match play has us thinking ahead. What are the best possible matches that COULD happen this week at the Accenture? These are our favorite possible matchups. 

Nick Watney vs. Tiger Woods (second round) -- Any match Tiger is in will be featured, but I’d love see a player like Watney go up against him Tiger in a fairly even match.

Graeme McDowell vs. Hunter Mahan (second round) -- I’m fairly certain Mahan would love a piece of McDowell in match player after what happened at the 2010 Ryder Cup, and it would be the featured round of Thursday.  

Sergio Garcia vs. Keegan Bradley (second round) -- I’d like this just for the pre-match ceremony where Garcia hands over the “Incredibly Long Pre-Shot Gold Medal.” He’s held it for so many years!  

Adam Scott vs. Dustin Johnson (third round) -- I just like the idea of zero University of Arizona girls going to class on Friday so they can head out and see Mr. Scott vs. Mr. Johnson. 

Lee Westwood vs. Tiger Woods (third round) -- A clash of titans before the quarter-finals? Yes please.  

Rory McIlroy vs. Sergio Garcia (third round) -- Probably the best chance for McIlroy to get upset out of his bracket, Garcia is headed in playing some seriously good golf, and two of the bigger names in the game would bring tons of attention to the Gary Player bracket. 

Martin Kaymer vs. Bubba Watson (third round) -- I think just about everyone would be excited to see this rematch of the 2011 semi-finals, just as long as Kaymer leaves the scarf at home. 

Rory McIlroy vs. Jason Day (quarter-finals) -- I have a feeling this will happen, and I’m absolutely jazzed about it. 

Ben Crane vs. Kevin Na (quarter-finals) -- Can an entire match be put on the clock? Can even the guy putting people on the clock be put on the clock? No chance this isn't the final match of the day. It has to be!   

Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods (semi-finals) -- Do I really need to explain why this would be awesome? 

Luke Donald vs. Tiger Woods (finals) -- Because I’d really like to see Tiger get his first win in something like this, over a bunch of big names, the last being the world number one. I think that would really show just where he is with his golf game, and give the guy about a 400 percent boost, confidence-wise. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter.  

Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:38 pm

Luke's 2011 honors piling up like holiday gifts

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The hosannas and hardware keep piling up for Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in golf by means of world-ranking arithmetic, money lists and increasingly, a slew of voter tallies.

Two weeks after he was named the player of the year on both the PGA and European tours, he was named the top performer of 2011 by the Golf Writers Association of America, a press contingent that will honor Donald at its annual banquet at the Masters in April.

Donald, 34, became the first member to top the money lists on both major tours in the same season, a feat that obviously impressed both peers and aficionados alike. Voting totals again were not released by the PGA Tour, but in the GWAA tally, Donald won by an impressively wide margin.

Donald received 88 percent of the votes (180 votes in all), compared to nine percent (19) for two-time tour winner Keegan Bradley. Webb Simpson received three votes and U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy received two.

Donald, a Northwestern graduate, won four times worldwide in 2011, the most of any player, and supplanted No. 1 Lee Westwood atop the rankings by beating him in a playoff at the European Tour's flagship event at midseason. In another memorable duel that greatly impressed his American tour brethren, Donald reeled in and passed earnings leader Simpson at Disney World, the final event of the U.S. season, with a sterling 30 on his back nine.

While Donald's latest honor hardly rated as a surprise, the same goes double for the GWAA's top female player, Yani Tseng, who won 12 times worldwide in 2011, one of the most dominant seasons in women's history. As parity grips the men's game -- seven different players won twice on the PGA Tour in 2011, including Donald -- Tseng blew away her competitors and won two majors along the way.

The season was so dominant that it fast drew comparisons to past performances by Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez and other retired stars.

Tseng received 95 percent of the vote for the GWAA's top female player to two percent for runner-up Stacy Lewis.

In the award for the top senior player, Tom Lehman claimed 86 percent of the tally (177 votes) to eight percent (16) for runner-up John Cook. Mark Calcavecchia (10 votes) was third.

Category: Golf
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:48 pm

Donald named top player by PGA Tour peers

In an age when golf often seems more about the high-flying hare than the steady tortoise, Luke Donald proved that guile and consistency can still beat flamboyance over the long haul.

The 34-year-old became the first player from England to win the PGA Tour’s top-player award on Tuesday, claiming the Jack Nicklaus Trophy by a vote of his playing peers.

Donald won twice this season, including a clutch performance at the season finale at Disney World that surely turned heads. He topped the money list, led the tour in scoring average and top-10 finishes, and last weekend added the money title on the European Tour, too.

No member of both tours has ever topped both earnings lists in the same season. Donald won four titles worldwide this season, a career best.

“It’s been a tremendously consistent year for me,” Donald said by phone from Australia, where he is playing this week.

Vote totals were not released.



Category: Golf
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 3:03 pm

Luke takes heat: 'Rory more talented than Tiger'

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you’ve ever been to the U.K. and dined in a restaurant – and lived to talk about it – you probably noticed a vaguely labeled, mysterious bottle parked near the salt and pepper shakers.

It’s something called Brown Sauce, and the Brits use it liberally to cover up the occasional shortcomings of their food selections.

Effective Wednesday, world No. 1 Luke Donald was sprinkling it on his transcript from the Dubai World Championship and being asked to eat his words.

Locked in a duel for the European Tour money title with world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, Donald said the young Northern Irishman, 22, was more talented than any player he had ever seen. It took, oh, about 10 seconds for those comments to go viral, prompting a barrage of incredulous attacks on Donald – who turned 34 on Wednesday – via his Twitter account.

Donald felt compelled to explain himself, too. First, here's what he said in his interview session on the eve of the European Tour's richest event and season finale.

"I’ve always said that of the guys I've played with, Rory has the most talent," he said. "I see him winning lots of tournaments and lots of majors."

That list of pairing partners would include Woods.

"I believe so, yeah, just in a pure talent," Donald said. "I know Tiger is very, very close and obviously I think Tiger's work ethic has always been tremendous, and his mindset, as well. I think his mindset is what has separated himself from the field when he was really at the top of the game. 

"But in terms of talent, I think Rory has more talent."

Woods, 35, has 71 career victories on the PGA Tour alone. Last weekend, McIlroy won his fourth worldwide title in Hong Kong.

"Rory showed the world how great he can be when he won the U.S. Open," Donald said. "That was an unbelievable way to play in a major event and finish it off like he did. He's young and has a great future ahead of him."

Woods has a more uncertain trajectory, to be sure, but Donald was carved up pretty good and spent some time Wednesday night trying to explain himself on Twitter. In reverse chronological order, so that the Tweets make more sense in written form, Donald defended his statements as some in the Twitter universe came at him with pitchforks in hand.

“A few people aren't understanding what I meant," he wrote. "The word talent and Rory to me means a free flowing swing who makes everything look so easy.

“TW has always been the best at getting the ball in the hole when it mattered the most. That's not just talent [that's] something else too....

“Talent can only take you so far, you need the right attitude (mindset) and application to perform at the highest level....

“… never try to disrespect Tiger in any way. He is still the greatest player I have played with.”

So, if we're splitting hairs correctly, Woods is the greatest because of his mental toughness, but Rory is the most inherently talented and physically gifted.

Truth be told, no matter how Donald’s opinion is parsed, he’s hardly the first guy who has taken a stance on Woods lately, joining Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Steve Williams and others who have offered less-than-glowing predictions about the former world No. 1’s future.

Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 1:32 pm

At last, tour defends Donald ballot botching

ORLANDO, Fla. – In the background, the sound of papers rustling could be distinctly heard, on more than one occasion, as the PGA Tour’s head of communications on Wednesday at last tried to explain the not-so-great Ballot Blunder of 2011.

So, even when finally offering an explanation, two days after the fact, the tour had to script and recite the words of its alibi?

After changing the rules Monday with regard to the timeline of balloting for the top-player honors, an award that world No. 1 Luke Donald seemingly had all but clinched with his clutch victory at the so-called season finale Sunday at Disney World, the tour has been taking some hits in the court of public opinion.

You're about to understand why.

Appearing by phone on the Golf Channel on Wednesday, communications chief Ty Votaw attempted to mount a defense of the tour's decision to hold off on the ballot mailings for two more weeks, but he certainly didn’t say anything to make Donald seem like less of a sympathetic figure.

Moreover, Votaw didn’t engender much goodwill regarding the tour’s ham-handed handling of the issue, which has become a sizeable talking point in some quarters. Below are some excerpts -- and devil's advocate counterpoints -- of Votaw’s comments on the issue during the Morning Drive chat show.

For the purposes of background: The tour said last week as Donald was winning the Disney season finale that it would mail Player of the Year ballots to the membership this week. On Monday,the ballot mailing was pushed back. The delay allows players in the HSBC Champions field in early November the chance to put a final dent in Donald’s status as the perceived POY favorite, well after the tour indicated the season would have formally concluded and the polling period would have begun. 

Said Votaw: “A journalist contacted us on Monday to confirm whether HSBC was in fact an official victory … When asking that question, it focused us on what the impact of a potential victory at HSBC would be on information that membership would receive if ballots went out this week as opposed to going out after HSBC."

That's three HSBC drop-ins already. And these are just the seemingly scripted warmup comments.

Votaw: “This is really, in our mind, a question of fairness to HSBC, so it’s result as an official-victory event could be considered by a voting member, just like it was last year; fairness to the voting body, so that the same information is possessed by all voting members when the ballots are sent out; and fairness to all those nominated [for postseason awards], so that their playing records in official events are reflected on the ballots.

“If this change hadn’t been made, you could have had members voting on incomplete information if they voted before the HSBC, versus those who chose to vote after the results of the HSBC were known. So it really came down to a matter of fairness and we felt this was the right decision to make.”

A phone call to Donald to explain this rationale might have been nice. The tour never inititiated contact. And some say Donald is an aloof sort?

Votaw: “Nothing whatsoever about this decision takes away the merits of Luke’s exemplary performance this year in voters’ minds.”

Well, except that another two weeks will have passed, and PGA Tour players have the attention span of most Americans these days – which is to say, about the length of an average text message.

Votaw: “But this is not about Luke Donald. The analysis would have been the same and the decision would have been the same if Webb Simpson had won.

“It wasn’t an oversight brought up by a journalist. The journalist simply asked the question if HSBC was still an official victory.”

Oh, and then the timing gears in the Ponte Vedra Beach drivetrain finally cranked into reverse.

Votaw: “But the analysis and the decision was made after we looked at whether HSBC was included last year as an official-victory event, and we felt it was fair to HSBC as an official-victory event to continue. That would have been disrespectful to HSBC.”

Yeah, by all means, appease all-omnipotent sponsor HSBC, with zero regard as to the fairness to Luke and everybody else who believed he had won the season finale. Trick or treat!

Votaw: “I mean, the answer is, if we had not made this decision, if the change wasn’t made and the results of HSBC were somehow impactful to this discussion, you guys would probably have come on Monday after HSBC and had a nice little animated discussion about how we should have included those results.”

Maybe so. But can we get back to the gratuitous HSBC mentions? That’s only about a dozen so far. Just think if it were a bank with a real U.S. presence.

Votaw: “If you want to characterize it as an oversight, that’s fine.”

Gee, how about if the tour admits it screwed the pooch, not to mention Donald, instead of asking the media to explain and describe the nature of the gaffe?

Votaw: “We corrected the oversight, and we think correcting the oversight was the right thing to do. I’d rather do that than do nothing and then be criticized for not doing anything about an oversight.”

At that point, the conversation swerved into the odd definition of the HSBC event itself, and whether it ought to be included in the Player of the Year discussion anyway. Donald pointed out the quasi-official nature of the tournament on Tuesday, admitting he was hardly doing cartwheels over the tour's ballot blunderings and last-minute inclusion of the China event. To wit, the HSBC isn’t fully official on the U.S. tour. The money doesn’t count, and it’s only considered an official victory if an existing PGA Tour member wins it. For example, last year, European Tour veteran Francesco Molinari of Italy won and was not granted U.S. tour membership.

Votaw: “I’m not sure there are any vagaries about this, because, again, it was considered last year as far as the Player of the Year and it’ll be considered this year as far as the Player of the Year because of the change that we made.”

If that assertion is true, and that's clearly a matter of opinion, then it's the only thing about the whole process that hasn't seemed cloudy.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com