Top ranking `very special` for Donald, never a priority

Last Updated: Jun 02, 2011, 00:12 AM IST

Dublin: While Britain`s Luke Donald never placed a high priority on becoming world number one, he readily concedes that reaching the game`s summit this week was "very special".

Donald replaced Lee Westwood at the top of the rankings after beating his fellow Englishman in a gripping playoff for the European Tour`s PGA Championship at Wentworth in Virginia Water, England on Sunday.

"It`s something I`ve never really thought about too much," Donald told reporters at Muirfield Village Golf Club on Wednesday about becoming the game`s leading player for the first time.

"I knew if it did ever come to fruition that it would be very special. But it wasn`t at the top of my list of things to accomplish. It wasn`t a goal of mine, certainly at the start of the year or in the last few months."

Donald, a five-time champion on the European Tour who claimed his third U.S. PGA Tour victory at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, has always been motivated by tournament wins.

"As a kid, you dream about winning majors and winning tournaments," the 33-year-old Englishman said while preparing for this week`s Memorial tournament.

"I always kept an eye out on the world rankings and had an interest in it, but I suppose for the bulk of my career Tiger (Woods) was so far ahead that it never really crept into my mind.

"But in the last year or so, there`s been more of an upheaval in the rankings and there`s been a lot more movement so I knew the opportunity was there."

UNBROKEN RUN

Woods enjoyed an unbroken run of more than five years as world number one before being dethroned in November and he has since slipped to 13 due to poor form and injury.

Donald made the most of that opportunity to climb up the rankings with remarkable consistency this season.

Since missing the cut in his first event of the year, the PGA Tour`s Northern Trust Open in February, he has strung together nine top-10s in his last nine starts worldwide.

Yet Donald, like Westwood before him, has attracted criticism in some quarters for becoming world number one without winning a single major title.

Asked if he truly felt he was the number one player in the world, Donald replied: "I do. I do. The way that the world rankings are, consistency is highly weighted.

"If you can keep playing well week-in and week-out, keep earning those points, then you`re going to climb in the world rankings. I don`t think there`s anybody been more consistent in the last nine months than me."

Unquestionably, though, Donald would dearly love to have at least one major title to his name by the time he retires.

"Being ranked number one is self satisfactory in terms of you feel good about what you`ve done," he said. "Winning a major makes you seem more accepted as a great player from your peers.

"I would love to finish my career winning a major. If I don`t, it won`t be the end of the world. I know I tried my best."

Bureau Report