Commentary

Donald not ready to give up No. 1

Updated: August 2, 2012, 8:17 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

AKRON, Ohio -- The view from the top never gets old, even if there are those who often forget he is there.

In his fourth and longest stint atop the Official World Golf Rankings, Luke Donald has now been No. 1 in the world for a total of 55 weeks. Only four players in the history of the rankings have been there longer.

Of course, Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros all won major championships. Of the other 15 players who at one time held the top spot, only Lee Westwood has never won a major.

[+] EnlargeLuke Donald
AP Photo/Phil LongFor all the lack of fanfare surrounding world No. 1 Luke Donald, only four people -- Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros -- have been on top of the rankings for longer than the Englishman.

Neither has Donald.

That is a bit of a sticking point, and perhaps why he has not gotten his due as the top player in the world.

Donald is doing his best to stay on top. He rallied during the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham to snag a tie for fifth, and opened the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday with a 4-under-par 66 at Firestone Country Club.

"I love being No. 1,'' said Donald, who trailed Round 1 leader Jim Furyk by 3 shots after 18 holes and is tied for third. "It just reminds me of how consistent and how well I've played the last couple years. I mean, it's a great plus in terms of the mental side, just knowing the results that got me there. I think it's great to be there, and it pushes me harder to work harder to try and stay there as well.''

To some, the lack of a major diminishes the achievement. Besides Donald and Westwood, only Fred Couples and David Duval had not won a major when they went to No. 1. Both subsequently did.

Then again, we are in a four-year period of 16 different major championship winners. Donald has failed to win one, but he's clearly been the most consistent player. Last year, he won the money titles on both the PGA and European tours. He's won twice worldwide in 2012.

"Obviously there isn't as much fanfare around me,'' Donald said. "I kind of go about my business. I think certainly the fact that I haven't won a major distracts away from some of the fan base, and I understand that. But in terms of myself and knowing what got me there, I'm certainly very proud of everything I've done.''

Donald, 34, began the year No. 1, got off to a slow start with no finish better than a tie for 33rd in his first three tournaments, then relinquished the top spot to Rory McIlroy. They went back and forth before Donald settled into the top spot after winning the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour.

Donald can be overtaken for the top spot this week if No. 2 Tiger Woods wins the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and Donald finishes worse than third. Woods is 7 shots behind Furyk after Thursday's play concluded.

Since his slow start, Donald has six top-six finishes including two victories. And he's looking forward to another chance at his first major next week at the PGA Championship.

"I had a nice week off last week,'' he said. "Did some nice work on the range. And excited about a good, long stretch of some good tournaments coming up.''

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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