Donald seeks end to barren spell at Masters
AUGUSTA, Georgia (AFP) –
It’s been a frustrating year to date for Luke Donald as the former world No. 1 has struggled with his usually superb short game, but he is hopeful he can turn that around at the Masters.
The 35-year-old Chicago-based Englishman is winless since the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last May, a victory that returned him to the top of the world rankings.
And in his last outing in Malaysia, he endured a rare missed cut as his putter misfired once again.
It all runs in stark contrast to the two previous years, when Donald firmly established himself among the game’s elite.
“Yeah, my results haven’t been what I wanted, but someone who had such a great 2011, pretty good 2012, I know the ability is there,” he said.
“It’s just being patient, waiting for my turn to come. It’s frustrating sometimes, but you know, I think when you have that background of good results in the past, that you know that good things are going to happen.
“You just keep working hard and playing through some of those tough times and it will turn around.”
The poor run of form does have one benefit for Donald as it means that he goes into Augusta somewhat under the radar and under less pressure to finally win a major title.
In the past he has struggled to live up to having the world No. 1 status without having won one of the four major titles.
“Yeah, certainly a lot less demand (this time), a lot more going under the radar. Less expectation,” he said of his week so far at Augusta National.
“Probably less expectation for myself, and I think that can only be a good thing. You know, it’s one less thing to think about. “
No European has won the Masters since Jose Maria Olazabal secured his second Green Jacket in 1999, bringing down the curtain on two decades of European domination which brought 11 victories to the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer.
Why that has been the case is a mystery to Donald, although he feels that the current crop of European golfers is as good as any in the past, citing Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and his close friend Justin Rose.
Rose, at a career-best No. 3 in the world, will be the top-ranking European player at this year’s Masters, and he has shown in the past that he has the game to win here, notably in 2007 when he tied for fifth after flirting with the lead going down the back nine on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Florida-based Englishman comes into Augusta National in a fine run of form culminating in a runner-up finish to Tiger Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last month.
Rose, who also tied for eighth at last year’s Masters, believes that the work he has put in over the last year with coach Sean Foley, who he shares with Tiger Woods, is paying dividends in terms of his consistency.
“I feel like I’ve emerged from what I would say was a rocky kind of professional career, up and downs,” he said.
“I always had good years, bad years, but I feel like recently I’ve sort of got into a nice run of form. So I feel like it’s a lot more sustainable. I have a good team of people around me to help.”
The draw for the first two rounds has Donald going out with tournament favorite Tiger Woods and Scott Piercy, while Rose partners American world No. 5 Brandt Snedeker and young Japanese hope Ryo Ishikawa.