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Donald targets world No. 1 spot after European Tour award

updated 11:47 AM EDT, Wed May 23, 2012
Luke Donald (L) receives his honorary life membership from European Tour chief exec George O'Grady
Luke Donald (L) receives his honorary life membership from European Tour chief exec George O'Grady
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luke Donald targets the world No. 1 spot after being honored by the European Tour
  • Englishman awarded honorary life membership after record breaking year
  • Donald topped the money lists on both the European and PGA Tours in 2011
  • The 34-year-old can retain his top ranking with victory at Wentworth this week

(CNN) -- Fresh from being awarded honorary life membership of the European Tour after his record-breaking 2011, Luke Donald is aiming to cap a landmark week by reclaiming the world No.1 spot.

The Englishman was handed the accolade after becoming the first player to top both the European Tour and PGA Tours money lists last year.

Donald spent a large part of last season at the top of the rankings, hitting the front after defeating compatriot Lee Westwood in a playoff at the BMW PGA Championship.

And as he prepares to launch the defense of his crown at English course Wentworth this week, Donald has underlined his desire to usurp Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy at the top of the rankings.

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"I'm excited to be here, and glad to have a chance to go back to number one," he was quoted as saying on the European Tour's official website.

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it's nice to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the greats that have played the European Tour
Luke Donald

"It's always a great week, and especially when you have a weather forecast like this. I'm excited to be back here.

"I've performed well around this golf course and I think any time you're coming back to a place with such good memories, you feel good about it."

Donald has performed well at Wentworth after changes were made to the course two years ago and he says last year's triumph over Westwood provided one of the highlights of his career so far.

He added: "It was a huge win for me, in terms of cementing the win that I had a few months earlier in the Accenture Match Play.

"To come here and win a stroke play event against a very strong field in the The European Tour's Flagship Event was special.

"I grew up just down the road, I had watched this tournament many times as a kid. Not just having the win on the line but also the title being Number One golfer in the world was very special. The year kept improving as it went along, and this was a big part of it."

Donald's stellar 2011 convinced the European Tour to hand him honorary life membership and he becomes the 41st player to achieve the feat.

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Last year 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke, South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, who won the 2011 Masters, and Lee Westwood were all awarded the prize.

Donald said: "It is very inspiring what the European Tour has done in the last few years, and it's nice to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the greats that have played this Tour, and this is very special.

"This means a lot, and I really thank you for it."

The European Tour's chief executive George O'Grady said Donald's achievements in 2011, where he won record earnings of €5,323,400 ($6,701,800) were quite extraordinary.

He said: "To reach the number one position in the world last May in such dramatic circumstances at Wentworth was one thing, but to follow that up with another superb victory in the Scottish Open on his way to winning The Race to Dubai and the US PGA Tour Money List was deeply impressive.

"Luke's record in 2011 speaks volumes for his consistent high standard of play during the whole year and it is a great privilege to honour him in this very special way with this Honorary Life Membership, the highest award we as a Tour can bestow."

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