Luke Donald's Diary - 9/03/2010
by Luke Donald on September 3, 2010
This was a very hard team to get into. Everyone seemed to be playing great. I’m delighted to be back. We have a very strong squad and I’m looking forward to being part of it again, hoping to help Europe get the Ryder Cup back. I really missed not being in the 2008 team because of the wrist injury and I’m very excited. I thought I had a chance but there were a lot of world-class candidates.
I found out after 10 holes on Sunday at the Barclays, though. I was going along nicely, out in 28, then I found out – and I went to pieces! Talking to the other players, it would have been nice to have the decision made on the Monday. Maybe it’s something that can be reviewed and see if it can be changed. It was definitely a little distracting to the guys playing over in the Barclays. It’s a logical answer for the two captains to pick the teams at the same time, so there’s no advantage, perceived or not.
I don’t want to go on about the qualification system; we have to concentrate now on the guys who are in the team coming together to win. But I think maybe it needs a tweaking or two. I understand the European Tour want to protect their tour and encourage players to play in Europe as much as they can, but at the same time the top players shouldn’t be penalised for wanting to play against the strongest fields and better themselves. It doesn’t seem quite right when the number eight player in the world is not on the team.
I don’t think you can fault Monty on picking Edoardo Molinari,though. The way he won at Gleneagles shows a lot about his character. He truly deserves to be on the team.
I sat down at the beginning of the year and tried to figure out the best way of me getting onto the team. I knew I wasn’t going to play my whole year in Europe, I had PGA Tour responsibilities. I did though, give up some tournaments that I’d previously had good records at in the US and come over to Europe during May, June and July. One of those events was played at Celtic Manor and obviously finishing third there couldn’t have hurt my chances of having a pick.
Monty also said he picked me because of my ability to play foursomes as well as fourballs and one of my main skills is my consistency. I keep the ball in play – that’s a pretty strong attribute in matchplay. Some people think that matchplay is all about lots of birdies, not worrying about bogeys because it’s only one lost hole. I’ve always felt if you can always keep in play you put pressure on. If you make your opponent need at least birdie to beat you, then you’re not going to go too far wrong. I have a good matchplay record, so that must have helped me.
It’s hard to know who I’m going to be paired with. There are some obvious pairings: the Molinari brothers, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, even Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher...we’ll have to figure out what the best fit is. There are some guys I haven’t played with. If Paul Casey had been picked I’d have probably been a good match with him. I think I could play with any of the guys. Lee Westwood, good off the tee, Martin Kaymer, a similar player to Westwood, they are the guys in my thoughts. Obviously we’ll have to have a chat with Monty and see what he thinks is best.
I want to play as much as I can – every player does – and contribute. It’s not fun being left out. It’s a team of 12 and only eight play on the first two days, but I’d love to play all five matches. That’s up to Monty.
The game of golf is very fickle and it depends on how everyone’s playing that week. It changes week to week. We just want to make sure we get 14 and a half points. I’m hoping I can, like Edoardo Molinari showed straight away in Switzerland, go out and show Monty I’m worth the pick. I’m aiming for the Tour Championship and a really good couple of weeks can put me in a great position going into the final US event.
Hard work is paying off. You don’t shoot 28 if you’re not doing something right! I’ve been working hard on my short game. Because I’ve been playing so much, I’ve kind of let practice slip a little bit. During Firestone and the PGA I really struggled around the greens. Chipping and putting is my bread and butter and when I don’t do it well it’s kind of hard to score.
So I’ve been clocking up the hours with the short game more than anything. It’s been nothing really technical, just being diligent, simulating how it would be out on the course. You’re chipping with meaning and then trying to hole out with the putt – over and over again.
On the full swing, I’ve been working hard on really rotating around my spine. I feel like sometimes my right knee gets pushed out a little bit too much on the way back and I sway too much with my head. I’ve been trying to stay very steady and just swing around my spine. That really helps with the consistency of my ball-flight and it’s straightened out my drivers a little bit. I’ve been driving a lot better lately. I’m striking the irons really nicely – Celtic Manor might be too soon for the MP-63’s. It’s more likely that I’ll switch in the close season when I get a little more time to practice - but they seem a very easy transition from my current 62’s, so you never know.
I think Celtic Manor’s going to play a little bit different in October to how I played it in June. The course will play a little bit longer, but, as always on Ryder Cup week, you need to be playing well. I’ll have a good run of events behind me leading up to it. I feel like I’m well prepared and ready to go.