England’s Luke Donald plays his first event of the season this week, believing he can make it all the way to world number one.
Donald, at 28 only two years younger than Tiger Woods, said on the eve of the Buick Invitational in California that he knows it will not be easy in a sport currently dominated by big-hitters.
“I think it’s a big advantage nowadays,” he said.
“Can I be number one? I still think I can.
“If I can compete and win majors then there’s no reason why I can’t be. I’m going to have to practise a lot. I’m going to have to believe in myself - everything is going to have to fall into place.
“It’s a huge time commitment, and I’m willing to put that time in and give it my best shot. Whether I get there I’m not sure.”
Donald is currently 16th in the world but almost certainly would have broken into the top 10 for the first time last month if his victory against a star-studded field in the Target World Challenge had carried ranking points.
It did not because it was not part of the official US Tour season, but Donald came from six strokes back with a closing 64 to beat Darren Clarke by one and collect the $1.3m (€1m) first prize.
Nine more of the present top 20 were left trailing in his wake. Defending champion Woods, for instance, was 14 shots back and next-to-last in the 16-strong line-up.
Woods puts another of his titles on the line this week for what is also his first outing of the new campaign and his first since his 30th birthday.
Donald has been runner-up on the last two stagings, first losing a play-off to John Daly and then managing only a 73 against Woods’ 68 after he had gone into the final day joint leader with Tom Lehman.
“Every year I want to keep improving,” added the High Wycombe golfer.
“I feel like I’ve done that over the last four years. A great year would mean winning more PGA Tour events.
“I think I’m at the stage where I should be competing every week, and majors are obviously a big goal of mine.
“I had one decent major finish last year, third at the Masters. But other than that, I wasn’t really contending and I need to be up there in all of the majors having a good chance to win.
“Ryder Cup is another goal of mine this year. I obviously want to make that team again – and if I keep playing the way I’ve been playing then it should just take care of itself.
“A great year is winning, keep climbing up the world rankings and getting close to number one in the world.”