SANDWICH, England, July 12 (Reuters) - Luke Donald may be going into this week’s British Open as a world number one without a major victory to his name but he believes there is less pressure on him to succeed than there is on U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.
Young Northern Irishman McIlroy blew the golfing world away with his remarkable eight-shot triumph at the Congressional last month and he is the focus of attention at Royal St George’s.
“Rory is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds and rightly so,” Donald told reporters as cold and blustery winds took a bite out of Sandwich on Tuesday.
“He was impressive in the U.S. Open and winning majors is a big deal. He did it and did it in great fashion.
“I’m sure a lot of the attention is on him and maybe a little bit more of the pressure as well.”
Donald, who has stormed to the top of the rankings by winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona, the PGA Championship at Wentworth and last week’s Scottish Open, said the number one tag had nothing to do with his mindset at a major.
“I’ve always wanted to win a major since I turned pro, even before that when I was growing up and watching some of my idols — Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and the like,” said the 33-year-old Englishman.
“It doesn’t really change whether I’m ranked number one or number 100.”
Donald said his self-belief soared after his victory in Arizona in February.
“The win at the World Match Play was a big key for me,” he explained. “I hadn’t won recently other than a small event at the Madrid Masters in 2010.
“I hadn’t really won for a number of years and it was becoming tougher and tougher. But as soon as you get that one (big) win it kind of opens the door, it gave me a lot of confidence and I’ve been playing very well since then.”
Donald was one of several competitors given a buffeting by the winds during practice on Tuesday and he said the player who could scramble best this week may walk away with the Claret Jug.
“I think the guy that can scrap it around and make pars from off the green, hole some long putts and kind of keep the momentum going, especially when it’s very tough like it was today, that’s the key to playing well,” he said.
“Today it really tested everything. Getting the ball in the hole, putting well and getting up and down from missed greens is extremely important.”
Donald gave a graphic illustration of how difficult it was to control the ball.
“I hit a seven-iron from 119 yards today on one hole just because if you hit anything hard it gets up in the wind and it gets blown away,” said the Ryder Cup stalwart.
“Today would have been a good day to grind out pars.” (Editing by Ed Osmond. To comment on this story: email@example.com)