Forward Press: Luke Donald, like Peyton Manning, will face doubts until he wins a big one
Luke Donald, 34, has won five times on the PGA Tour and five times on the European Tour. His consistency in 2011 was unmatched and helped him reach the top of the Official World Golf Ranking. But unfortunately for Luke, he's 0-for-35 in the majors.
In a few years, when we look back on the 2011 season, most people are going to remember Rory McIlroy's U.S. Open rout at Congressional. Donald's accomplishments -- winning four events and the money titles for both the PGA Tour and the European tour -- will be overshadowed and underappreciated.
Peyton Manning, who signed a five-year, $96 million contract in March with the Denver Broncos, used to be looked at the same way. Good guy, amazing numbers, lots of talent ... unable to win the big one. Between 1998 and 2006, Manning threw for more than 4,000 yards seven times, and the Indianapolis Colts won 92 games, but none of that mattered until they beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. As good as Manning was, many argued that he hadn’t realized his full potential until he won that game.
Donald, who is in the field at this week's Zurich Classic in New Orleans, is an elite player. No one denies that. But he has a habit of disappearing at the majors, which is something elite players shouldn't do. With each passing major, a chorus grows louder that Luke is a compiler, that he's never been a dominant player, and that regardless of what the rankings say, he's never really been the best player in the world.
There is usually something that keeps very good players from winning majors. Lee Westwood's putter lets him down, and you could say the same thing about Adam Scott. Hunter Mahan's short game is improving, but it's never been a strength. Sergio Garcia's mental toughness is nonexistent.
Donald, however, is like Manning in that his game doesn’t have a glaring weakness. He’s one of the best iron players of his generation, long enough off the tee, an excellent putter and outstanding from the sand. He just hasn't broken through in the majors -- yet.
Manning's stats and Super Bowl ring guarantee him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Donald has the talent to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., but he's got a lot of work to do before he gets a spot.
It's too bad the PGA Tour no longer has an event in Denver. Peyton might have some advice that Luke needs to hear.