McIlroy, Donald to battle for No. 1WENTWORTH, England - The battle to be the world’s top-ranked golfer will again be a subplot of this week’s PGA Championship, which starts today here at Wentworth.
Luke Donald, who deposed Lee Westwood at the top of the rankings when winning last year’s title, is the only player who can topple current number one Rory McIlroy, but needs to repeat his victory of 12 months ago to do so.
However McIlroy performs, Donald has to finish eighth alone or better to have any chance of reclaiming his place at the head of the rankings.
A win for Westwood, who displaced Tiger Woods as number one in October 2010, would leave him just short of top spot.
Donald will start the defence of his title playing with England’s Justin Rose and Spaniard Alvaro Quiros for the first two rounds whilst McIlroy is grouped with three-time major winner Ernie Els from South Africa and Scotland’s Martin Laird.
Westwood is grouped with Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn from Denmark.
There are a record number of 14 major champions in the field including Els, who with his course designer hat on has made more changes to the course.
Two years ago Els was criticized by his fellow players for altering the course, particularly the par-5 18th that caused drama in last year’s play-off when Westwood hit his approach into the water around the green.
Further tinkering ahead of the tournament a year ago also did not meet with the approval of many of the golfers with Ian Poulter being one of the loudest to vent his disapproval.
Els has made some minor modifications to the course for the flagship event of the European Tour and is convinced he has finally come up with a fair test of golf.
“I think the guys will have a lot better scoring opportunities,” Els told reporters at Wentworth. “It is a par 72, six-under won last year. I think 14 or 16-under is going to be the winning score and hopefully we will have a lot more smiling faces.”