Donald glad to not be in Rory’s shoes

Luke Donald heads to Augusta next month delighted not to be in the shoes of world number one, Rory McIlroy.

The present world number three ranked Donald tees up this week in his defence of his Tampa Bay Championship title and in his last PGA Tour event before the season’s first Major commencing on April 11th.

Luke Donald Luke Donald (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Twelve months ago, Donald needed just two weeks to displace McIlroy and regain the world number one position in beating three players, including then defending title holder, Jim Furyk at the first play-off hole on the Innisbrook course along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline.

Donald retained the honour of the world’s best golfer for all four Majors of 2012 before relinquishing the title when McIlroy stormed to an eight-stroke PGA Championship success.

“Being number three in the world means less stress and less people looking at me, and also less media attention,” he said.

“It means more attention on Rory (McIlroy) and Tiger (Woods) and I find I can go about my business a lot more.

“I was number one in the world into all four majors last year and then lost my number one ranking after Rory won the PGA.”

“But it’s tough being number one as everyone is always looking at that guy and expecting results, and I expect results myself, and you feel like there’s added pressure to perform.”

Victory this week would send the Chicago-based Donald through the $US 30m barrier in PGA Tour career earnings.

However Donald will need at least two more victories to bridge the current 4.39 world ranking point’s gap on McIlroy.

And Donald will not play again in the States ahead of next month’s Masters and instead will travel next week from the still wintery ‘Windy City’ to join Padraig Harrington in the sauna-like conditions of Kuala Lumpur for the co-sanctioned Maybank Malaysian Open.

“I am trying to work out the best playing schedule before the Masters and I still haven’t got a pattern that works,” he said.

“I have struggled at Bay Hill which is next week and also never played that well in Houston that is usually the week before Augusta so that’s why I am going to Malaysia.

“So I will be taking three weeks off after Malaysia before going to Augusta and besides it will be nice to knock over a European Tour event and save having to add one at the end of the season.”

Unlike recent weeks, Donald is among just eight Europeans in the Florida field, including fellow former world number one Martin Kaymer.