Martin Dempster: Boding well for Masters

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I FELT some sympathy for Luke Donald a fortnight ago when he was toppled from the world No 1 spot by Rory McIlroy. I

It was a deserved reward for the young Ulsterman, but I just didn’t like the fact some people seemed to see it as a case of justice being done.

They resented seeing Donald at the top of the rankings due to the fact he hadn’t won a major. It didn’t matter that the Englishman was the best golfer on either side of the Atlantic last season, creating history by topping the moneylists on the European and PGA Tours.

In truth, they’d wanted to see McIlroy become No 1 ever since he was crowned as US Open champion in sensational style last June and, based on his remarkable consistency from the tail-end of last season into the first two and a bit months of the new one, he deserved that status. However, it has only lasted a fortnight after Donald, who by his own admission had started the year sluggishly, returned to form with a vengeance to win the Transitions Championship in a four-man play-off on Sunday and, in doing so, went back above McIlroy in the rankings again.

It also meant that Europeans had recorded three wins in a row on the PGA Tour following McIlroy (Honda Classic) and Justin Rose (Cadillac Championship) and our hand, surely, is going to be stronger than it has been for some time heading into The Masters in a fortnight.

Europe reigned supreme at Augusta National for a spell, landing the opening major seven times in nine years after Sandy Lyle sparked the winning spree in 1988. Yet, not since 1999, when Jose Maria Olazabal triumphed for a second time in six years, has one of our players pulled on a Green Jacket.

It’s time that changed.