Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# Caddy Shack
In the swing: Luke uses the force for victory
Neil Cullen takes a few swings at the weekend’s golf action.

LUKE DONALD HAD one of those weeks at the World Golf Championship Accenture Matchplay in Tucson Arizona where he just wasn’t going to be beaten.

In fact, he was so good that after his win against Charley Hoffman in last Wednesday’s first round he admitted, “I didn’t leave anything out there and I was pretty dominant.”

For a golfer to admit “I didn’t leave anything out there” is unprecedented. What he is essentially saying is that he walked off every green satisfied that he couldn’t have had a better score on the hole. No “if onlys” or “shoulda, woulda, couldas”. When have you ever heard a golfer admit that before?

If you’re not convinced, how about this… In six rounds of match-play golf, Luke Donald wasn’t down in a match at any stage and made 32 birdies in the 89 holes he played. Yes you read that right, marginally better than a birdie every three holes. He was so solid, he never let his opponents into the match and gave himself more than enough chances in to kill off any one of the world’s top 64 players that were thrown at him. Shots like this always help as well.

It is surprising that Donald hasn’t won more on tour. This weekend’s win was his sixth, counting both PGA Tour and European Tour victories, but he was always a player whose potential to win, even to win a Major, was rarely, if ever, doubted.

The Englishman beat Martin Kaymer in the final, a man who in reaching the final officially became the greatest golfer on the planet at this moment in time. He earned enough ranking points to move to the number one position in the world rankings Here’s the story of the final along with the 3rd/4th place playoff.

Kaymer reaffirmed this week why he deserves to be world number one. It wasn’t just by making the final, more the manner in which he did it. The fact the he consistently closed out matches when under pressure over the last few holes shows that he is very strong mentally and knows how to win.

Nowhere was this more evident than against Hunter Mahan in round three. Two holes down with six to play is not a good place to be against a player of Mahan’s ability. Kaymer had to dig deep and did so by making four birdies in a row from 13 to 16. By then he was one up in the match and a par on 17 was enough to seal victory. His ability to prosper under pressure would suggest Kaymer could well be number one for a long time. There are certainly more Majors to come for him, many more.

It also says a lot about his standing in the game now that he can be the first golfer to wear a snood. And if we’re being honest, he doesn’t just get away with it, he makes it look very good.

Back to the future

Another man Luke Donald took care of en route to victory was the young Italian Matteo Manassero. The 17-year-old is the youngest player ever in a World Golf Championship event. He proved his worth right off the bat in round one by beating then world number eight Steve Stricker. He overcame Charl Schwartzel in round two and gave Donald a good run in round three. Naturally with a man of his age, there are many areas of his game which he can develop, the most obvious being his power and distance, but at this stage there is no need to force the issue.

The signs are already extremely promising, he has already won on the European Tour, and there is little doubt that he will become a multiple tour winner, possibly even Major winner, in time.

Exclusive Six
Nations Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella’s exclusive analysis of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this spring

Become a Member

A man that had a week to forget was Tiger Woods. He began the week at the longest odds he had been with the bookmakers since 1997 (14/1) but exited the tournament on Wednesday after losing to Thomas Bjorn in the first round. If we’re being honest, it has got to the stage where you’d need far more generous odds than 14/1 to ever consider backing him. Maybe he just had a bad day against Thomas Bjorn, maybe he has lost it for good. I don’t think even he knows.

A few honourable mentions to finish off:

Rory McIlroy continues to yo-yo his way through golf tournaments. Having eased past Jonathan Byrd in round one, it was pretty shocking to see him go out 8&7 to Ben Crane the next day. Only the dedicated golf fans amongst you will know Ben Crane and that says everything that needs to be said really.

Graeme McDowell had a reasonable week. He was open about the fact that he wasn’t on top form so maybe reaching the third round was a fair enough outcome for him.

Ricky Fowler’s victory over Phil Mickelson could be seen as a microcosm of world gold at present as youth won out over experience.

Lee Westwood dropped down a place in the World Rankings to number two. He has a poor record in this event and it didn’t come as much of a surprise not too see him progress past the second round, particularly as his opponent Nick Watney played so well.

Talking points

  • Martin Kaymer is now World Number 1
  • Luke Donald had an unbelievably good week
  • Tiger Woods was completely uninspiring yet again
  • We’re are seeing a changing of the guard at the summit of world golf
  • The Irish lads didn’t do much, despite our constinued hope, expectation and support