World Number Two Luke Donald has his sights fixed firmly on a place in the record books alongside Colin Montgomerie next May by attempting to capture the BMW PGA Championship for a third consecutive year.
The 35 year old Englishman joined Montgomerie and Sir Nick Faldo as the only players to have successfully defended the title in the illustrious history of the players’ flagship event when he won in considerable style in 2012.
Now Donald is aiming to complete a glorious treble from May 23-26 at Wentworth Club, a feat achieved only by eight-time European Number One Montgomerie, who completed the previously unprecedented hat-trick in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Donald edged out Lee Westwood in a play-off in 2011 – and with it leapfrogged his compatriot into the World Number One spot – before successfully defending the title in last year, cruising to a four stroke victory which again returned him to the pinnacle of the Official World Golf Ranking.
“Obviously the BMW PGA Championship is The European Tour’s flagship event and to win it back-to-back was very special for me,” said Donald, who also made history in 2011 by topping The Race to Dubai and the US PGA Tour Money List in the same season. “It will be a great honour to go there and try to do what Monty did.
“It’s a huge event on The European Tour schedule and the West Course is one that suits my game very well. I’ll be going there with high expectations of trying to emulate the great Colin Montgomerie.”
Donald grew up in nearby Buckinghamshire, and as a child would watch his idols grace the hallowed fairways of Wentworth Club, a memory which makes his victories all the more special.
“When I was 12, 13 years old I’d be running around the course watching some of the great players – Nick Faldo, Ernie (Els), Seve (Ballesteros), the top players in Europe,” he said. “Being just 30 minutes from home, it was a special event to me and I always love coming back to Wentworth.
“As golfers we aspire to inspire the younger generation and hopefully my two victories there have inspired some younger kids to go out there and practise hard.”
The victories in 2011 and 2012 are significant for the four-time Ryder Cup winner for different reasons, but the common theme was the magnificent level at which he played, displaying the short-game master-class that has become the hallmark of his game.
“In 2011, in the play-off against Lee (Westwood), it was special in that it was not only the tournament on the line but the World Number One spot as well,” reflected Donald. “That was the first time I went to Number One and it was a special moment. Every player aspires to be as good as they can be, and to know that my best was good enough to get to World Number One was very special.
“In 2012 it was more a case of trying to repeat my performance. It was the first time I’d defended a title and it felt fantastic.
“It’s always tough to lead from the front. I had a two shot lead over Justin (Rose) going into the last round and it’s always nice to go out and play really solid golf.
“Not only did I have that tournament on the line, it was an opportunity to win back-to-back tournaments, so to do it was very satisfying. To know that under extreme pressure I had what it took to pull off the victory was great.”
Advance tickets to watch Donald and the rest of the star-studded field in 2013 are on sale now and represent outstanding value, especially if purchased as part of the Championship’s pre-Christmas offers on www.europeantour.com/tickets
The increase in attendances in recent years has prompted The European Tour to throw open the doors to the public on Tuesday, May 21, designated for the first time as an Official Practice Day. Advance tickets as part of the pre-Christmas offer are £5, which is half the price payable on the gate.
Wednesday will now be known as Celebrity Pro-Am Day (£10 pre-Christmas; £15 on the gate), where the public will be able to mingle with the good and the great of the worlds of entertainment, sport and music along with the leading golf professionals. Details of participants in this enjoyable precursor to the main event will be published nearer the day on www.europeantour.com
For the Championship (May 23-26), an Adult Season ticket can be purchased now for £60 (concession £40) – in both cases £20 less than the gate admission price during the week. Any One Day Adult tickets can be purchased before Christmas for £30 (concession £15) with prices rising to £40 and £25 respectively on the gate.
Adult Weekend tickets (Saturday and Sunday) are available now for £45 (concession £28), rising to £60 (concession £45) during the week. Reserved 18th green grandstand seats can be booked now for £15 (Saturday) and £20 (Sunday). No discounts apply for advance bookings or concessions.
Families planning to attend the Championship should note that all children aged 16 and under will be admitted free of charge if accompanied by an adult ticket holder.