Luke Donald's Diary - 7/05/2010

by Luke Donald on July 5, 2010

I've put a lot of planning into this year's Open Championship and I'm hoping that is all going to pay off at St Andrews.

People have been telling me I'd be better playing in Europe most of the time.

After playing in JP McManus’s tournament I’m going up to Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville and Old Head – all great courses and all great for preparation for St Andrews. I think it’s vital to have links practice.  I’ve got a few friends coming up so we’ll have a good time as well.

I did something similar last year in Scotland and had a good Open Championship. So thought I’d try it again.  I’ll get to St Andrews on Sunday night and I’m sure I’ll get at least two practice rounds in. Two rounds will probably be enough.

As far as St Andrews is concerned, well my form is very good at the moment, so I’ll be very optimistic of having another good Open.

I’ve played the Old Course a few times and I feel very comfortable around it. It’s a course you have to play several times to know where you are going and what you are doing. I’ve had some very good rounds there, so hopefully I can feed off that and have a good week.

There have been some changes made to the Old Course, so that will be something to take in. The 17th, the Road Hole change is the only one I’ve heard about. I’m not sure if there are other different tees. As far as the 17th is concerned, I’m not sure if that was needed. It’s a tough enough hole as it is! But it will be the same for everyone. I’ll just have to try to figure a way to tackle it.

As far as planning goes for St Andrews, you make up your plan as you go along. You note how the course is playing – what kind of conditions there are on that day. Scoring will be determined a lot on how the weather is. If it’s good weather you are going to have to go out and play aggressively, make as many birdies as you can. If the weather’s poor, you need to rein in at the hard holes, try and stay away from high numbers. And you always try to take advantage of some of the shorter holes.

The recipe for success at St Andrews, though, is staying out of the bunkers. They are like water hazards. It’s a shot lost automatically if you go in one.

My game is thankfully very consistent with the Open looming large. I didn’t quite fire on all cylinders in France and the greens at the National were often tricky to read. But everything in my game is pretty satisfactory. There’s still room for some improvement but I feel I’m working on all the right things. Hopefully in a couple of weeks it will all come together.

A successful Open will be good for me on several fronts. I’m fighting for my Ryder Cup place and at the moment I’m getting two bites of the cherry. I got bumped out of the world list by Graeme McDowell after his fantastic U.S. Open win but my good run in Europe really helped my cause on the European points list. I’m in the team right now and I’ve just got to keep playing the way I have been and the Ryder Cup should take care of itself.

Then there are the world rankings. After finishing third in Wales I moved to the highest I’ve ever been, to number six. After the wrist injury it took a little time being confident on the golf course but I’ve got the confidence back again. There’s always room for improvement but I think I’m playing better than ever.

People have been telling me I’d be better playing in Europe most of the time. I do enjoy being in Europe and I’ve had a little more success here than in the US. But I live in Chicago, my wife and baby are there, my coach is there. So it’s going to be hard to leave America. It would be quite an upheaval. I’ll have to think long and hard about it before I commit more time to Europe. Right now I’m quite happy playing six events or so in Europe and around 18 in the US.

The other big point for me to consider is that I enjoy playing against the best players in the world in the strongest fields and most of the time that’s in America.

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Author Luke Donald

An English native, Luke Donald is one of the world's top golfers. In addition to his top-10 world ranking, Luke has numerous wins on the PGA and European Tours, and played a key role as a member of the victorious European Ryder Cup teams in 2004, 2006, and 2010.