Blogs & Opinion


Rob Lee blogs on Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and European Tour

Rob Lee Posted 12th March 2013 view comments

Luke Donald will be hopeful of defending his Tampa Bay Championship this week - but he will find it extremely difficult to replicate what he achieved in 2011.

The Englishman cleaned up two years ago, finishing top of the PGA Tour and European Tour money lists, winning four tournaments, including the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the BMW PGA Championship, and ending the campaign as world number one.

Donald: does not have the power to match Woods and McIlroy, says Rob

Donald: does not have the power to match Woods and McIlroy, says Rob

However, for a mere mortal that is very difficult to sustain, especially when 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods and the supremely talented Rory McIlroy, who duplicated Donald's 2011 exploits in 2012, are around.

If Tiger and Rory are at their best, Luke cannot compete with them; he has a tremendous mind and when he is on, his iron game and putting are fantastic - but he hits considerably shorter off the tee than Woods and McIlroy and that disadvantage will eventually tell.

Luke's iron game and putting are fantastic - but he hits considerably shorter off the tee than Woods and McIlroy and that disadvantage will eventually tell.

Rob Lee
Quotes of the week

Graeme McDowell went toe-to-toe with Tiger for a period at the WGC-Cadillac Championship last week, but an unspectacular final round saw him finish in a four-way tie for third place as Woods won the event, for a seventh time, by two strokes from Steve Stricker.

The Northern Irishman will be pleased with his performance, though, as, like Donald, he has not figured in too many tournaments in 2013, but it seems his time away from the spotlight has allowed him to work on a few aspects of his game.

McDowell's greatest assets, however, are his self-confidence and tough streak; he stood tall while the rest of the field wilted to pluck the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach and he did what he needed to for Team Europe to win his continent the Ryder Cup in the same year.

Graeme is a strong competitor who doesn't shirk a battle or get intimidated easily and has the ability to bounce back from a bad day at the office rather than dwell on it, traits that should serve him well as he hunts for more Majors.

Still, he would have to go some to be as punch-proof as Phil Mickelson, who can triple bogey a hole and then completely forget about it by the time he tees off at the next one!

Absence

The transition of Donald and McDowell over to the States means the European Tour events are not as star-studded as organisers would like, but the top players almost have a built-in world tour these days.

They start off in the Middle East on the European Tour before heading over to America for the World Golf Championships, therefore bypassing the European events in South Africa and India, and then stick around for the Majors.

And while they will return to our shores for a couple of meaty tournaments, like the BMW PGA Championship and the Open, the premier players will not be on this side of the Atlantic too often.

I don't see sponsors pulling out because of a lack of star power, though, especially at tournaments like this week's Avantha Masters, because Messrs Donald, McIlroy and Lee Westwood have never played there.

The famous players' absence could benefit the European Tour in the long run, though, as it will allow some unheralded guys to break through, solidify their reputations, secure their playing rights for future years and ultimately build their career.

Austria's two-time European Tour winner Bernd Wiesberger and Dutch birdie machine and 2011 Johor Open champion Joost Luiten, both 27, can prove their success was no fluke by taking another title, while 22-year-old Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who hits the ball a mile, could seize his first.

However, the Avantha Masters' weaker field also gives some of the European Tour stalwarts, like Anders Hansen (42), Thongchai Jaidee (43) and Daniel Chopra (39), the chance to prove that age is no barrier and add to their trophy cabinets.

There might not be glittering names but there could be some glittering golf.

ROB'S SKY BET TIPS

AVANTHA MASTERS: I'm going to go for 50/1 shotAndy Sullivan this week. The Englishman has fired in some low numbers already this year and finished tied for fifth at the Africa Open in February and, with the big players away, I think he can win here and kick-start his career.

TAMPA BAY CHAMPIONSHIP: Adam Scott shot 64 in the final round at the Cadillac so is plainly coming back into form, while Luke Donald knows he can play well around the Copperhead course, but 14/1 shot Sergio Garcia is hard to oppose; he hit some excellent shots at Doral and seems at peace with himself.

Rob Lee's success as a golf tipster has helped reward four charities.

The Sky Sports golf expert has won nearly £6,000 in two years betting with online bookmaker Sky Bet and has decided to donate all the money to charity.

The charities to benefit from Rob's generosity are Help Uganda Trust, the Ashford St Peters Hospitals Charitable Fund, the Cardinal Newman Parents Association and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.

Don't forget to check at Rob's weekly tips at Sky Bet

back to top

Other Golf Experts:

Latest Posts in Golf:

Butch Harmon

McGinley beat Watson

Butch Harmon says Paul McGinley out-captained Tom Watson as Europe retained the Ryder Cup....

0 comments

View from America

Thoroughbred field

Even without Tiger on top form, the PGA at Valhalla proved golf's elite can thrill, says Simon Veness....

comments

Latest News RSS feeds

Alfred Dunhill preview

A preview and best bets for this week's European Tour event - the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

McGinley salutes vice-captains

Paul McGinley believes his decision to appoint five vice-captains was crucial to Europe's Ryder Cup victory.

Howell suffers injury setback

David Howell has revealed that injury could prevent him from defending his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship title.

McIlroy claims PGA Tour award

Rory McIlroy has been voted the PGA Tour player of the year for the second time in three years.

Rory: Clarke perfect captain

Rory McIlroy says Darren Clarke is the "perfect" man to captain Europe at the next Ryder Cup in 2016.

Features

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship: A preview and best bets for this week's event in Scotland

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship: A preview and best bets for this week's event in Scotland

With last weekend’s Ryder Cup still fresh in the mind, there has been a jubilant buzz in the air ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Titleist 915 metals

Titleist 915 metals

For the eagle eyed among us, you may have noticed Titleist tour players with some new equipment in their bags over the past few months. In particular Geoff Ogilvy who claimed his first victory since 2010 at the Barracuda Championship using the new 915 D2 Driver.

Rob Lee's Sky Bet tips: Sky Sports pundit looks at Alfred Dunhill Links contenders

Rob Lee's Sky Bet tips: Sky Sports pundit looks at Alfred Dunhill Links contenders

With Rob Lee having spent many hours commentating on the Ryder Cup for Sky Sports – and offering up his end-of-play thoughts on skysports.com – we decided to give him a rest from blog duty this week.