The Norman Transcript

National Sports

May 10, 2012

Donald, McIlroy face off in long battle for No. 1

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Golf’s world ranking has been more like a game of musical chairs with the most turnover at the top in the 26-year history of the ranking. Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald would like the music to stop playing for good sometime this year, the sooner the better. And both want the same outcome.

“Hopefully,” Donald said Wednesday, raising his hand, “it will be me.”

McIlroy said the same last week at Quail Hollow, where his playoff loss at the Wells Fargo Championship was enough for him to return to No. 1 for the third time this year.

Donald has a chance to take it back from him this week at The Players Championship, which offers the most world ranking points of any tournament besides the majors. They already have taken turns at the top six times in the last 10 weeks. The last time the No. 1 ranking was even remotely this volatile was in 1997, when it changed seven times in 13 weeks among Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman and Ernie Els.

The Players Championship is a rare occasion for them to get together. Already four months into the season, McIlroy and Donald have only competed in the same tournament four times: the Abu Dhabi Championship, two World Golf Championships and the Masters.

“I think the last couple of months have not been as exciting because Rory and I really haven’t been playing in the same events,” Donald said. “I think that will change a little bit, and hopefully there will be some situations coming up in the next few months where we’ll be playing in the same tournament and both having a chance to win the tournament.”

As for a clear No. 1, Donald said that can only happen by winning a major or multiple tournaments — along with the other players not playing well.

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