Donald targets back-to-back wins
After finally ending more than four years without a win, Luke Donald hopes to make it two in eight days at the Wales Open.
After finally ending more than four years without a win yesterday, Luke Donald hopes to make it two in eight days at this week’s Wales Open.
The 32-year-old, now the fourth English player in the world’s top nine after his victory at the Madrid Masters on Sunday, will be the highest-ranked player on show at Celtic Manor this week.
It should be the first of two trips Donald makes to the venue this year – the second, of course, being for the Ryder Cup in October.
He is up to fourth in the Ryder points race after beating Welshman Rhys Davies by a shot with a performance that went a long way towards making amends for losing the BMW PGA Championship by one in the previous week.
The contrast between the two finishes could hardly have been more stark.
At Wentworth he had a double-bogey seven on the penultimate hole, but at Real Sociedad he eagled the 16th after hitting a 252-yard fairway wood to 12 feet.
“It’s been a while since I won and to put last week behind me makes me very proud,” he said after producing a closing 67 for a 21-under-par total.
“The way I played today means a lot to me. The eagle was huge because Rhys put a lot of pressure on me.
“It’s happiness and relief – definitely some relief.”
Following last year’s Open, where he came fifth, an American writer coined the term ‘Luke Donald disease’, pointing to him as the perfect example of a bunch of British players who earn a lot but do not win very often.
“It was a bad article – it’s wrong,” commented Donald. “I don’t listen to my critics too much, but it was frustrating for myself not having won for four years.”
His last success was the Honda Classic in Florida in March 2006 and in Europe his last victory was in Switzerland six years ago.
European captain Colin Montgomerie will be delighted to see Donald fully recovered from the wrist injury that took him out of the reckoning for the last match.
But he might not be so happy to see that Padraig Harrington and Paul Casey are no longer among the nine who would earn automatic spots in his side if qualifying ended now.
Donald took Harrington’s place on the world points list – four come from that – while Italian Francesco Molinari, third in the Spanish capital, has moved above Casey and Alvaro Quiros on the European earnings list which provides the next five.
Davies, 25th last Friday, is moving up fast. Winner in Morocco in March, the European Tour rookie pushed Donald hard all week.
“I didn’t make a bogey in the final group in a big tournament,” he said. “It didn’t quite come off, but I’ve got lots to be pleased about.
“I was chasing the win and I just came up short unfortunately. On the 16th I thought I might keep the momentum (he had just birdied the 15th to level), but he threw in an eagle to be fair to him.”
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