Donald is back on top and enjoying the view
23:02 GMT, 19 March 2012
Force: Luke Donald triumphed in Florida
On the plane to Miami a fortnight ago, Luke Donald's caddie, John McLaren, couldn't keep the smile off his face when I asked him about Rory McIlroy deposing his man to become the new world No 1.
'Best thing that could have happened,' he said. 'A wake-up call, I think they call it.'
So now we know, following Donald's stirring victory in the Transitions Championship in Tampa on Sunday to reclaim top spot.
Clearly, when he tweeted McIlroy a fortnight ago and humorously told him to 'enjoy the view', there was a subliminal add-on that didn't wing its way through the ether. It read: 'Because, buddy, it isn't going to last very long.'
To think, this glorious toing and froing among our top golfers for pole position began 18 months ago with Lee Westwood learning of his ascent while buying a pair of washing-up gloves in his local supermarket. How the stakes have risen.
First Donald beats Westwood in a play-off to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Then McIlroy holds off Tiger Woods to win the Honda Classic. Now Donald has won another play-off, this time of the four-man variety, with a classy birdie at the par-four 18th that had proved the hardest hole all day.
Tough at the top: Donald appears to have been inspired by Rory McIlroy
Throw in Donald's win in Florida last
November, when nothing else would do if he was to claim the US Tour
money list, and that's play of the highest calibre under pressure.
If truth be told Donald, following a quiet start to the season, was feeling a little trampled in the rush to proclaim McIlroy as the man of the next decade.
In his last event before the Masters at Augusta in a fortnight's time, this was a 'don't forget me' cry of piercing clarity.
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What we're seeing here are two players
revelling in a tennis-like rivalry, two model professionals using each
other's successes to drive themselves on, with UK golf the clear winner.
There's no animosity either, as there often is with two men badly wanting the same thing.
'Well, it was good while it lasted!' tweeted McIlroy, on Sunday. 'Congrats Luke Donald! Impressive performance!'
It's not just these two either. Do you think world No 3 Westwood will take the top two sprinting clear of him lying down
Then there's Justin Rose, whose win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship nine days ago can partly be attributed to using Donald as inspiration.
And what about those currently pushed to the margins, like Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell They are going to want a piece of the action again, aren't they
So to the final leg of the four-tournament Florida swing with, incredibly, all four titles currently residing in UK hands, as the Scot Martin Laird prepares to defend the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
The sunshine state, they call it, and nothing in UK sport is in a sunnier state right now than golf.
Ernie's Augusta deadline
This is the final week for players not currently exempt for the Masters to gain a last-minute invitation via a ranking inside the world's top 50.
Anxious times, therefore, for 57th-placed Robert Rock in Morocco and 62nd-ranked Ernie Els at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Dreaming of Augusta: But Ernie Els missed out at the Transitions Championship
Els had a golden opportunity to secure
his berth on Sunday but bogeyed the last two holes to go from one ahead
at the Transitions Championship to one behind.
'It's going to be tough to get over this, I'm not going to lie to you,' he said.
The vast army who have admired his languid grace over the years will hope he can somehow do so at Bay Hill.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Unbelievable experience at the White House last night! Big thanks to Barack Obama for the invite! We’ll get that golf swing sorted soon!
Rory McIlroy’s cheeky tweet following a soiree he attended in Washington hosted by America’s golf-loving President.
Farewell to America's Wooldridge
If ever there was a man befitting the phrase 'a southern gentleman' it was Furman Bisher, who passed away on Sunday at the grand age of 93. Quite simply, this year's Masters won't feel the same without him.
Bisher was the Ian Wooldridge of American sportswriting, whose columns for the Atlanta Constitution for more than 60 years added up to a masterclass in the art of writing pointedly, but always with manners, fairness and style.
'Through his honest and entertaining prose, he became the iconic voice of the Masters throughout Georgia and a living legend to many, me included,' said the current Masters chairman, Billy Payne, on Furman's retirement from newspapers in 2009.
Here are some words Furman wrote on the passing of the boxer Joe Louis that, upon changing the word fighting to writing, could serve as his own epitaph: 'Then they lowered him into the ground and that is all that remains of the great fighting man, except a memory that shall become a national resource.'