JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — So the World’s No. 1 and No. 2 golfers still haven’t won a major between them. Another championship gone, another missed opportunity for Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. It must be driving them potty that world ranking points simply don’t translate into major victories.
Both fought hard to get their big-time names in among the little-known names of Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley. But the very English challenge ran out of gas at Atlanta Athletic Club. Donald got to five under at the 12th but couldn’t push on to put pressure on those playing behind him. He was the architect of his own undoing for the second day in a row. On Saturday he threw away two shots by hitting his approach into water at 18. Sunday he got wet at 15 after slapping his tee shot at the par 3 into the pond. Game over. He bogeyed 18, too, to finish the week at a disappointing three under par.
“Again, bittersweet. It’s another major gone, another year gone without winning a major,” Donald said. “The positives I see is I didn’t have my best this week and I still came reasonably close. I know I’ve got the game to compete and win majors. I’ve got to take that as a positive.”
It has nevertheless been a remarkable year for Donald. The new steely Donald will surely challenge at the majors next year. He has had a breakthrough season that saw him climb to No. 1 in May by beating Westwood in a playoff at the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth, England, the flagship event on the European Tour. He had two other victories — the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February and the Scottish Open in June — and has posted 10 more worldwide top 10s. He finished tied for fourth at the Masters, tied for 45th at the US Open and missed the cut at the British Open. Donald proved that old adage that “form is temporary; class is permanent,” by finishing tied eighth at the PGA Championship.
Such form means he has all but won the Race to Dubai as the top money-winner on the European Tour. He will tee it up at the Barclays Championship at the start of the FedEx Cup Series in two weeks with a real chance to become the first player ever to take the big money title on both sides of the Atlantic.
“That’s certainly a goal. That would be a great accomplishment,” Donald said. “No one’s ever done it, and to be the first would be very special.”
Westwood finished at tied for eighth with Donald at three under par, which ended a frustrating year at the majors, where he finished tied for 11th at the Masters and T3 at the U.S. Open and missed the cut at the British Open. He is now 0-for-55 at the majors, and appeared close to tears with frustration and exhaustion after his round.
“I played lovely again. Just one of those things,” Westwood said before heading off for a two-week holiday. He added that he will play big fall tournaments on the European Tour, including events in Switzerland, Holland, Scotland and finally Dubai.
“I have enjoyed playing great for a long time now,” he said, “but unfortunately when I turn up to majors, when I don’t win one, then it’s a disappointing week.”
It can’t help the sanity of either Westwood or Donald to watch a golfer with a nervous waggle called Dufner, and another in a red shirt with a fist pump not called Tiger Woods in a playoff in the last major of the year. Oh the irony.