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Nobody ever forgot about Luke Donald. When you win three times in one year and capture the PGA Tour and European Tour money list titles, in the same season, for the first time in the history of the sport, you're certainly going to be on everyone's radar.
But when Rory McIlroy ascended to the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings with his win at the Honda Classic, if seemed like the talk about Donald being "the guy" stopped ... at least for a couple of weeks.
Donald made sure the golf world didn't lose track of him for very long, capturing the Transitions Championship on the first hole of a four-way playoff for his fifth PGA Tour victory. The win also allowed Donald to reclaim the top spot in the rankings from Rory McIlroy.
While the win alone was impressive, it was the manner in which Donald won his first title of 2012 that makes you believe he's going to be a force in the majors this year -- especially if he keeps hitting clutch shots like the approach he pulled off during the playoff.
Stuck in the rough 157 yards from the pin, Donald seemed to be unsure if he should go after a pin that was sitting right behind a green-side bunker, or bailout and attempt a lengthy birdie putt. But with Robert Garrigus sitting in a perfect spot in the fairway, Donald seemed to realize he didn't have any other choice but play the riskier of the two shots.
The risk certainly paid off, as Donald watched his 7-iron shot land softly on the green and trickle toward the hole. It was the kind of shot Donald had to have in that particular situation, and he was able to pull it off and pick up the win.
We've come to expect a lot from Luke Donald recently, especially after he started piling up top-five finishes last year like they were made cuts. There's no question his No. 1 ranking and consistent play make him a favorite every time he's in the field, but at this point in Donald's career, it's time to see if his game is good enough to take the next big step.
That"big step" is a major championship. Donald has the talent to win at least one -- heck, he could win a couple -- but for some reason it seemed like every time he came into a major with his game in order, everything seemed to fall apart at the most inopportune time.
Maybe this could be the year that changes. The way he played on Sunday at the Transitions, firing a 5-under 66 to get in a four-man playoff, coupled with his brilliant win at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic last October ... well, you have to think this is his finally time. We'll get a chance to see if that's really the case in a couple weeks at Augusta National.
- Luke Donald
- PGA Tour