Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Luke Donald is almost certain to skip this year's Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in July.
The Englishman won the title in 2011 and tied 16th last year.
However, the Ryder Cup star has revised his schedule for this season and the Scottish Open will be a victim.
Despite being a a fomer World No 1, Donald has yet to win a Major and he believes the best way to break his duck is by spending time at venues a week before the tournaments begin.
He intends to it the week prior to the US Open at Merion - a course he has never played - and will repeat the plan for the Open at Muirfield the week following the Scottish Open.
Muirfield has not housed the Open since 2002 and Donald, who missed the cut that year, has not played it since
He needs time there to familiarise himself to the subtleties - and the changes - of the course.
Instead of the Scottish Open, Donald is set to play in the French Open at Le Golf National the previous week.
Donald is among a number of British players making their season's
debut at this week's Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles.His first event on home soil will be at Wentworth in May for the BMW PGA Championship.  


While Rory Mclroy changed equipment in the off season and Lee Westwood changed countries, Luke Donald found himself a new adviser. Step forward basketball’s greatest-ever player, Michael Jordan.
In one sense it is an unlikely alliance. While Jordan’s fondness for gambling and Las Vegas is notorious, Donald is viewed as the quintessential gentleman of his reserved homeland. But they have Chicago in common, just as they share a love for golf.
Jordan has recently moved into a $10million mansion close to where Donald is building a house in southern Florida. They struck up a relationship at the Bear’s Club, the exclusive country estate where both are members.
“Michael’s a really nice chap who I’ve got to know really well recently,” Donald told Telegraph Sport. “His fiancée [Yvette Prieto] is good friends with my wife [Diane] and we’ve begun to play a lot together. I’m always happy to empty his wallet.”
The burgeoning friendship might be beneficial to Donald for more than mere beer money. As an adopted Chicagoan, who has had his main residence in the Windy City for the past 15 years, Donald knows all about Jordan and his basketball heroics with the Bulls. Donald has been tapping into that famous competitive spirit.
“He’s good for the mind,” Donald said. “He’s been making sure that I’m ready mentally. It’s been good to pick Michael’s brains and find out what he was thinking about when he was playing basketball. He’s always trying to play mind games. He doesn’t like to lose.”
As a motivational mentor surely Donald could not do much better than Jordan. A golf addict who plays to a handicap of four, Jordan has come to understand what makes golfers tick because of his long friendship with Tiger Woods and by becoming America’s main cheerleader in the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup. To see how his influence rubs off on Donald will be intriguing.
Maybe it has already. Certainly the 35 year-old sounds confident as he sets out on his 13th campaign as a professional. The majors are in his sights, as is a young man from Northern Ireland. Donald fell from No 1 to No  3 last year, but unlike the overwhelming majority in the game, he does not see why McIlroy’s tenure at the top has to be uninterrupted.
“I still believe that I can get back up there and have the chance to be No 1 again,” he said. “If I have a year like 2011, it is possible. The rankings are tough because you basically have to at least match what you did in the season previously not to fall back.
"Last year was solid for me but I lost so many points because I had such a great year in 2011. It’s very hard to keep up. Rory’s going to see some of that this year.”
McIlroy has been warned, although Donald does not subscribe to the theory that his rival’s change of clubs to Nike will be detrimental. 
“He has too much talent for that to be a big factor,” said Donald, before discussing his decision to re-sign for Mizuno and reject other offers.
“I’m not in the same league as Rory in this regard,” he said. “If the numbers that were reportedly offered to Rory were offered to me I would have to think long and hard about it. Who in their right mind wouldn’t? 
"But if there was a slight difference between what Mizuno were offering and another company were offering then it just wasn’t worth it. I’ve got to have that comfort level of I know who I know and what I trust. It’s just one less thing to worry about.”
His pre-season preparations are tried and trusted, too. He last played competitively at the Dubai World Championship 11 weeks ago before putting his clubs away for five weeks. In the last month and a half he has worked on his game.
“It is exactly what I did in 2011 and it seemed to work,” said Donald, reflecting on his finest season so far, when he won four times and rose to No1.
“Professional golf pretty much has a 12-month season nowadays and I find that if you just take a few weeks off you can’t have a proper rest or a long enough period to work on your game. It is a little difficult watching the other pros playing competitively and, in the case of Tiger and Phil [Mickelson], winning. But I’ve used it as extra incentive to work harder on my improvements.”
The alterations, mainly to his backswing, have been subtle. The layman will not notice them. But under the gaze of Pat Goss, his coach since college, the labour has been intense. Donald has been in the gym every morning at 7.30am and has then spent six hours either on the range or on the course, where he has enjoyed practice rounds with Keegan Bradley and another new neighbour in Lee Westwood. The ambition plainly burns fiercer than ever. It is no secret what stokes Donald’s fire.
“Although I was content with how I played last year – I won three times on three different continents – I was once again disappointed with how I performed in the majors,” he said.
“I played solidly enough at the Open, but the other three were nothing to write home about. I’ve got to figure out the way to be competitive at the majors. That’s the main aim this year.”
To help achieve, it he will follow the advice from another sporting legend. Sir Nick Faldo is to British golf what Jordan is to the NBA and last year Donald had a sit-down with the six-time major champion. But while he took Faldo’s words on board, he did not obey them completely. This time around he will heed his countryman’s urgings and spend more time in reconnaissance. 
“The plan before the majors this year is to go to each course early and have a few days to get familiar with it,” he said. “I’ve not played Merion [which hosts the US Open] and haven’t played Muirfield for years.”
That is good news for France and bad news for Scotland. Donald will play at Le Golf National two weeks before the Open and skip the Scottish Open as he stakes out the Gullane links. “
Whatever it takes,” is Donald’s mantra. His Airness would most definitely approve.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Copyright © Colin Farquharson

If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google