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
  • 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."

Part of complete coverage on
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
It's a big dilemma: Be with your wife for the birth of your first child, or stay at work and try to earn $11 million. For Billy Horschel, it's a no-brainer.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Masters champion Bubba Watson says winning the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot would bring forward his retirement from the game.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the 14th green during the third round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 15, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Ian Poulter kept Europe clinging on in their Ryder Cup battle with the United States in Chicago.
Ian Poulter, who has constantly haunted the U.S. in Ryder Cup golf, is back after being chosen as a wildcard by European captain Paul McGinley.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.