Skip to main content

Donald targets world No. 1 spot after European Tour award

May 23, 2012 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Luke Donald (L) receives his honorary life membership from European Tour chief exec George O'Grady
Luke Donald (L) receives his honorary life membership from European Tour chief exec George O'Grady
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luke Donald targets the world No. 1 spot after being honored by the European Tour
  • Englishman awarded honorary life membership after record breaking year
  • Donald topped the money lists on both the European and PGA Tours in 2011
  • The 34-year-old can retain his top ranking with victory at Wentworth this week

(CNN) -- Fresh from being awarded honorary life membership of the European Tour after his record-breaking 2011, Luke Donald is aiming to cap a landmark week by reclaiming the world No.1 spot.

The Englishman was handed the accolade after becoming the first player to top both the European Tour and PGA Tours money lists last year.

Donald spent a large part of last season at the top of the rankings, hitting the front after defeating compatriot Lee Westwood in a playoff at the BMW PGA Championship.

And as he prepares to launch the defense of his crown at English course Wentworth this week, Donald has underlined his desire to usurp Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy at the top of the rankings.

Tiger's niece Cheyenne Woods turns professional

"I'm excited to be here, and glad to have a chance to go back to number one," he was quoted as saying on the European Tour's official website.

Monty: Difficult time for Tiger
'Lefty' to enter golf's Hall of Fame
it's nice to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the greats that have played the European Tour
Luke Donald

"It's always a great week, and especially when you have a weather forecast like this. I'm excited to be back here.

"I've performed well around this golf course and I think any time you're coming back to a place with such good memories, you feel good about it."

Donald has performed well at Wentworth after changes were made to the course two years ago and he says last year's triumph over Westwood provided one of the highlights of his career so far.

He added: "It was a huge win for me, in terms of cementing the win that I had a few months earlier in the Accenture Match Play.

"To come here and win a stroke play event against a very strong field in the The European Tour's Flagship Event was special.

"I grew up just down the road, I had watched this tournament many times as a kid. Not just having the win on the line but also the title being Number One golfer in the world was very special. The year kept improving as it went along, and this was a big part of it."

Donald's stellar 2011 convinced the European Tour to hand him honorary life membership and he becomes the 41st player to achieve the feat.

Newly-wed Dufner dreams of Ryder Cup

Last year 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke, South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, who won the 2011 Masters, and Lee Westwood were all awarded the prize.

Donald said: "It is very inspiring what the European Tour has done in the last few years, and it's nice to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the greats that have played this Tour, and this is very special.

"This means a lot, and I really thank you for it."

The European Tour's chief executive George O'Grady said Donald's achievements in 2011, where he won record earnings of €5,323,400 ($6,701,800) were quite extraordinary.

He said: "To reach the number one position in the world last May in such dramatic circumstances at Wentworth was one thing, but to follow that up with another superb victory in the Scottish Open on his way to winning The Race to Dubai and the US PGA Tour Money List was deeply impressive.

"Luke's record in 2011 speaks volumes for his consistent high standard of play during the whole year and it is a great privilege to honour him in this very special way with this Honorary Life Membership, the highest award we as a Tour can bestow."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
If golf has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, then the Bryan brothers and their trick shots are a much-needed blast of fresh air.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
Not many people make the leap from teenage market trader to golf pro and fashion entrepreneur, but that's just what Ian Poulter has done.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1129 GMT (1929 HKT)
"Sleep, as far as mental and physical recovery goes, has never been more important ..." says sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1024 GMT (1824 HKT)
Joe Miller is devouring his second steak of the day and the clock has barely nudged 2pm. You need lots of fuel to smash a drive 474 yards.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
There have been many dark days for Oliver Wilson, but golf's unluckiest loser is finally riding an upward swing of his career roller coaster.
October 7, 2014 -- Updated 1648 GMT (0048 HKT)
They dress like it's the 1930s and they swing antique equipment that eschews cutting-edge technology -- this is hickory golf.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1052 GMT (1852 HKT)
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
ADVERTISEMENT