Donald, McIlroy square off at Players Championship golf

Luke Donald has a chance to wrestle the world No. 1 ranking back as he and Rory McIlroy go head-to-head for one of the few times this season at this week's Players Championship.

The 23-year-old McIlroy returned to world number one with his playoff loss to Rickie Fowler last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.

In the last 10 weeks, either Donald or McIlroy have been at the top six times.

"I think the last couple of months have not been as exciting because Rory and I really haven't been playing in the same events," Donald said.

"I think that will change a little bit, and hopefully there will be some situations coming up in the next few months where we'll be playing in the same tournament and both having a chance to win the tournament."

McIlroy and Donald have competed in the same tournament just four times this year, including the Masters.

It was at the Masters where US Open champion McIlroy finished outside the top five for the only time this season.

He easily made the cut but then shot rounds of 77-76 on the weekend to finish in a tie for 40th.

McIlroy reached number one for the first time by capturing the Honda Classic in March.

Donald's game has come together after he got off to a slow start to the season. He placed out of the top 30 in five of eight tournaments but won the Transitions Championship.

Four players have held the No. 1 spot in the 18 months since Tiger Woods fell off the lofty perch.

But Woods is looking for good vibes at the Stadium Course this week to turn his fortunes around.

The 36-year-old American is coming off his eighth missed cut of his career at the Wells Fargo event. He has put together two disappointing back-to-back performances since winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

"I've done really well or I haven't," Woods said. "Either I've been right there in contention with a chance or I haven't."

Woods won in 2001 and placed second in 2000 but he also struggled mightily at this event.

"Guys, I've done this before," Woods said to reporters. "I've been through this. Actually, a lot of you guys lived it with me, went through those periods where I wasn't quite where I wanted to be.

"I had some pretty good runs after that, and this is no different. It takes a little bit of a time, and I keep building and things eventually come around to where they feel natural and efficient."

Masters champion Bubba Watson is taking the week off to recuperate from his major championship win and Dustin Johnson is also skipping the event while he recovers from back surgery.

Former winner Phil Mickelson will be playing just days after being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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