Donald, Westwood need Lady Luck's help
Updated: 2011-09-28 07:55
Luke Donald of Britain reacts to his shot on the 17th fairway at East Lake Country Club, during the final round of the Tour Championship PGA tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]
Englishmen poised for major breakthroughs, says former European No 1 Rafferty
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood have reached the summit of the world rankings without landing a major, but former European No 1 Ronan Rafferty believes it is simply a matter of time before the pair lift one of golf's four most coveted trophies.
Top-ranked Donald and No 2 Westwood have received criticism in some quarters for climbing to the top of the golfing tree without winning the US Open, British Open, US Masters or the US PGA Championship.
Rafferty, however, said the two Britons just needed Lady Luck to smile on them at the right time in order to end their major championship hoodoos.
"It's only a little spark that lights the flame under a golfer," 1989 order of merit winner Rafferty said. "I'm sure if they keep putting themselves in position the door will open for them.
"We are all assuming they are under pressure but in reality it may be just that they haven't got the right break at the right time.
"In golf there is always a shot somewhere down the line that changes your fate or fortune. Maybe it's just that it hasn't happened to them yet," said the 47-year-old Northern Irishman.
Rafferty, an ambassador for this week's Nespresso Trophy amateur event at Archerfield Links in Scotland, said Darren Clarke's shock victory at the British Open in July at the age of 42 was a prime example of what he meant.
"Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to golf, it is all about what happens on the day," said Rafferty.
"Look at Darren at the Open. He hadn't contended in a major championship for years and all of a sudden he played the golf of his life.
"Darren was a 175-1 outsider going into the Open. You wouldn't have picked him as a potential winner even if you had 20 choices. But lo and behold, he played a standard of golf that probably amazes him even today," said Rafferty.
"He probably looks back and thinks, 'Wow, that was unbelievable'. That happens in our game sometimes. Under the highest pressure you suddenly see things so clearly and play with an ease that you wish you could play with every week."
Rafferty, who played in the 1989 Ryder Cup and accumulated eight European Tour victories in his career, described the 33-year-old Donald as "the pro's pro".
"Luke has got the game to win a major and his game is probably more likely to win a US major than the British Open," Rafferty said.
"He doesn't do anything badly, that's the thing about his game. There's nothing hugely exciting about it but there's a lot of perfect, professional stuff a la Nick Faldo in his prime.
"He just hits the ball down the middle, holes a few putts and posts a 68. He's the pro's pro but he'll never be a flashy player."
Westwood is older than Donald and Rafferty said the 38-year-old might be feeling more pressure than his fellow Englishman to capture a first major victory.
"We all admire Lee because he was a top-class player who suffered a spell in the doldrums and then rededicated himself to the game and became the world No 1 for a time," said the Northern Irishman.
"He is a contender every time he tees up at a tournament but it will be frustrating for him that's he has not won a major yet.
"While other people around him are winning majors he'll be thinking 'Where's my break?'. But if you are that dedicated and you are a class player like him, your moment will eventually come."