- Associated Press - Saturday, June 9, 2012

DUBLIN, OHIO (AP) - Luke Donald goes into the U.S. Open ranked No. 1 in the world, and to listen to the casual golf observer, that can only mean one thing.

There must be a better system.

Luke Donald?

He is not an imposing figure like Vijay Singh or Ernie Els. He doesn’t have a personality that can take over the room like Greg Norman or Seve Ballesteros. He doesn’t have 14 majors like Tiger Woods, or any majors at all, for that matter.

There is little about Donald that looks like the No. 1 golfer.

He just plays like it.

“There’s always going to be people who look at my game and say, `He’s No. 1?’ That’s just the way is,” Donald said. “Whether they do or not, I don’t really focus on that. I focus on what I can control, and that’s just working hard. But I think I’m forcing people to respect me now. It’s getting to that point that I’m not going away.”

To look at the golf _ and not just the golfer _ there should be little question.

Donald has won six times in the last 18 months, more than any other player in the world. When his only option was winning, Donald birdied six straight holes to start the back nine Sunday at Disney, a clutch performance with historical significance. That win allowed him to become the first player to capture the money title on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season.

Even so, when U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy first went to No. 1 in March by winning the Honda Classic, there was a feeling the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland would stay there. Three times since then, Donald took it back, twice by winning.

Perhaps a U.S. Open title at Olympic Club would help change the perception. Or maybe not.

“I think the public wants a No. 1 like Phil (Mickelson), Tiger or Rory,” Stewart Cink said. “Luke is a nice, unassuming guy. He gets it done with his putting, with his short game, with his wedges. That’s not the dramatic stuff a lot of people want to see. They want to see the long ball. They want to see Tiger making dramatic putts.”

But is it the stuff Donald’s peers wish they had?

“Shoot, yeah,” Cink said. “The ones who play do, not the ones who watch. But that’s why they’re watching.”

What makes Donald’s rise to No. 1 so remarkable is that for so many years, his performance was barely above ordinary _ and perhaps that’s why some people struggle to give him his full measure of respect.

Story Continues →