x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Golfer Luke Donald hopes new coach will add to major swing

During a season in which he climbed to world No 1, English golfer Luke Donald became the first member of the PGA and European tours to win both money titles in the same season, reports Steve Elling.

England's Luke Donald holds the Race to Dubai after finishing third in the Dubai World Championship at the Jumeriah Golf Estates in Dubai in 2011. Jeff Topping / The National
England's Luke Donald holds the Race to Dubai after finishing third in the Dubai World Championship at the Jumeriah Golf Estates in Dubai in 2011. Jeff Topping / The National

Q: You have had some pretty notable personal career highlights. including winning at Wentworth, but Where does topping the Race to Dubai (R2D) figure on the list, especially since it represented the first US/European double?

A: That year [2011] was extremely special. I achieved so much and broke a number of records. When winning the R2D or the PGA Tour money list, you’re merited for consistency, which is an accolade that would give any golfer a great amount of satisfaction. Winning both in the same year is even more extraordinary. Having the chance to complete the double is one thing, but actually doing it when the pressure was on made that achievement very special.

Q: What are your favourite memories from the week you won the R2D title?

A: I knew going into the week I just needed a top-10 finish to secure the title, and with the way I was playing, I was confident I could make it happen. It goes without saying I was a little nervy after Round 1, when you find yourself in the middle of the pack, but I knew I had to stay patient. The real memory from that week that comes to mind was the amount of raw emotions I was experiencing. My father had just passed away, and my wife and I had also just welcomed our second daughter into the world — those two events put a lot of things into perspective for me, but at the same time made it difficult to concentrate for obvious reasons. I was just so relieved after it was all done — I remember looking up at the sky when the final putt dropped and thinking about dad and how proud he would have been of me. I shared a hug with my brother after the round and we both shed a tear for my dad.

Q: Can you assess your season so far? What have been the high and low points?

A: Other than having a chance to win the US Open, it’s been a disappointing season. I suppose my high and low point were both at the same event [the US Open]. I was in contention to win a major but couldn’t get the job done on the final day. I don’t like to make excuses, but there have certainly been some distractions both on and off the course this year, I’m now confident I’m back on the right path and that 2014 is going to be another great year.

Q: Changing coaches after 16 years drew some headlines in midseason. Without getting technical, w hat has Chuck Cook done so far and why did you make the move? Rather, what is your long-term goal in making the move?

A: It was obviously a very tough decision for me to make. [Former swing coach] Pat Goss is one of my closest friends and took me to world No 1, but I’ve always felt that my major record wasn’t what it should be. I believe majors are set up with a premium placed on ball striking, something I struggled with for the first six months of 2013. Chuck is trying to make this happen by getting me to use my bigger muscles in my swing as well as reducing the flip in my hands through impact. I already feel as though I’m making great progress.

Q: When you are living at your winter home in South Florida, do you play casual rounds with the other tour players from the neighbourhood? It seems like the Bears Club has an all-star roster these days.

A: I enjoy playing with a few guys. Keegan Bradley and I like to have a knock every now and again, Ernie Els as well. It’s just such a great spot and now that t There are so many tour players around, you can always find a game. I play a lot with Michael Jordan, too. He’s always fun just to watch and learn from him.

Q: You are starting a bit earlier next season, in Abu Dhabi at the HSBC event. What’s the thinking there?

A: Scheduling is a tough nut to crack and there is no right or wrong answer. This year, I had a long layoff at the start of the season, making the middle of 2013 more intense. Juggling membership on both tours is tough, but going to the Middle East allows me to knock off a couple of events early on in Europe, while at the same time you are playing in events where the fields are pretty strong. It’s a win-win.

Q: It has been a quiet year for some of the big European players such as yourself, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter. Are you saving it all up for the Ryder Cup?

A: It’s probably just coincidence, but it’s funny how it seems to have worked out that way the last couple of seasons. Right on cue, a lot of our boys played great at the HSBC Champions event, so hopefully that trend continues. It kills the US players that they lost at Medinah, so I’m sure they will be gunning for us at Gleneagles [in 2014] ... but we’ll be ready for them.

selling@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE