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Luke Donald eyeing step up to major level

World number 12 Luke Donald, Britain's highest ranked player, believes he is close to winning a major championship.

Tipped by six-times major winner Nick Faldo as the most likely young Briton to succeed at the pinnacle of the game, Donald signalled his potential by tying for third on his U.S. Masters debut in April.

"It's been a very successful start for me to the year," the 27-year-old Englishman told a news conference on Tuesday as he prepared for this week's BMW Championship at Wentworth.

"The one thing missing is a win but I've played very well. And I've played very well in the big ones, second at the Players (Championship) and third at the Masters.

"So I'm knocking on the door. Hopefully, if I keep getting myself into those positions, I can turn those second and third places into a win.

"I feel I'm one of the top players in the world, and your confidence does increase the better you play," added Donald, who splits his playing schedule between Europe and the United States.

Donald, who won twice last year in Europe and clinched the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic in his first full season on the PGA Tour, is delighted to be making his debut this week in the European Tour's flagship event.

"I'm very excited to be here," he said. "Wentworth is not too far away from where members of my family live so I get some home cooking this week.

"It's the pinnacle for the European Tour," added the former Walker Cup player, who will play the first two rounds in the company of Faldo and seven-times European number one Colin Montgomerie.

Donald, selected by European captain Bernhard Langer as one of two wildcard picks for last year's Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, hopes to qualify for next year's team in Ireland despite playing most of his golf in the States.

"If I keep playing the way I've been playing, I'll be able to split my time between the European Tour and the U.S. Tour and hopefully it won't affect my chances of getting on to the team," he said.

"I still feel like I could play well enough in the 13 or so events that I might play over in Europe to make the team."

Five of Europe's 12-man team are selected via the European Tour points table and five are chosen via the world rankings.

Donald was not too concerned that the increasing number of Europeans playing in the U.S. would hamper team selection by 2006 European captain Ian Woosnam.

"I think our Ryder Cup record has been pretty good for the past 10 years, although it might make his job a little harder picking some of the guys," he said.

"You should be able to pick a team from the best players playing well that year, whether they are playing in America or Europe. It shouldn't make too much of a difference.

The 36th Ryder Cup will be played at the K Club in Ireland from September 22-24 next year.


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