Luke Donald crested golf’s mountaintop in May 2011.
He ascended to No. 1 in the world golf rankings, and it wasn’t by virtue of his play at Colonial or the Byron Nelson.
Donald’s win at the 2012 BMW Championship at Wentworth not only leaves him with great memories but also almost assuredly means the former Northwestern golfer will not play Colonial anytime soon because of a scheduling conflict with Wentworth.
Donald held the No. 1 ranking for 40 weeks before slipping out of the top 10 in 2013. He is No. 27 entering The Masters on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.
The 13-time winner, coming off a 24th-place finish at the Shell Houston Open, talks about the Masters and when or if he’ll be returning to Colonial:
How’s the game feeling overall, and how’s the chase going to get back to No. 1? Not too bad. Last year was a bit of a transition season for me, changing management and changing swing coach.
There were a lot of changes really, but I feel like I’m on the upward path now. I’ve had a few good weeks, a few top 10s, and I feel like I’m headed in the right direction again. I’ve been working hard, and we all know it just takes one good week ... that can make all the difference.
Lots of players have different reasoning for playing the week before a major. You’ve done both, so how does this strategy shake out in your mind? Sometimes I go to the major site the week before and tend not to play the Tour venue. This year, I felt like Augusta didn’t change very much and I’m very familiar with the course.
I did go last Sunday before Houston, but it’s really nice to get in four competitive rounds before and kind of gauge where you’re at and the things you need to work on. It’s just one of those things where it’s not really shaking off the rust but one of those where you get the competitive juices flowing and get that mindset for the next week.
You’re an alum of Northwestern and anchored the golf team during your time there. Any thoughts on the current push by athletes to unionize? I’ve heard about it, but I haven’t read much about it, so I’m not as versed on the differences. You know going back to play golf at Northwestern as a pro would have its advantages and disadvantages, I guess.
As a golfer, given a scholarship, I was given a lot. There’s a lot being given to us, and at the same time, the schools are obviously making a lot of money off of us. Well, maybe not golf as much as football and basketball.
You can see some of their points. I think there’s better ways to figure this out as opposed to being unionized. I think there’s things like putting money into a fund for when they graduate and maybe using that for a potential pro career. I’m not sure really what the answer is and haven’t thought too much about it.
But like I said, there’s advantages and disadvantages to both. I guess if they don’t perform, they can be fired, right? Or get chucked out of school, which wouldn’t be very good, just like in any job. Some of it makes sense, some of it doesn’t.
Obviously you’ve got great memories at Wentworth, but when’s the next time DFW folks can expect you to make an appearance? I’ve played both in the past and like the area a lot. Unfortunately, both of those are around Wentworth, and that’s one that you have to play now as a member of the European Tour due to a new rule.
But it’s a tournament I play well at, and I can’t really commit to Dallas or Colonial. I’d love to play and especially Colonial, but that one seems to always run directly opposite the BMW Championships.
What is it that you like so much about Colonial? Well, I’m one of the average hitters on tour, and it sets up well for positional golf. Most of the tournaments I play set up well where I’m not losing strokes gained off the tee so much as maybe I do at a place like this. I enjoy Colonial and the history that goes with it.