By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- To understand how exactly Luke Donald got to this point in his career, you have to go back to the second round at Riviera earlier this year.
He’d just shot 79 and missed the cut.
Donald decided to go to Tucson, Ariz., a day early to prepare for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. Tuesday of that week, something clicked.
“I practiced Sunday and Monday, and I still wasn’t really feeling my swing,” Donald said. “I just found something on Tuesday in the morning, just a little key in my swing, just trying to tuck my right elbow a little bit more on the takeaway, and everything seemed to fall into place from that point on.”
As it turned out, the missed cut in L.A. would be his last. Donald went on to win in Tucson and hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since.
Donald comes to this week’s PLAYERS Championship playing arguably better than anyone else in the world and given his ball-striking one of the favorites, even if he hasn’t won here before.
“Obviously top-10s aren't the goal, but being in contention, having chances to win is,” Donald said. “It's just nice to kind of get to an event and feel pretty confident about where you're hitting the ball.
“Tee to green I feel like I've been a lot more solid this year, and my short game has been pretty stellar.”
So has just about everything else. Donald is 13th in strokes gained putting, fifth in birdie average, first in scoring average and, as a result, second in the FedExCup standings.
Of course it’s not exactly as if Donald came out of nowhere this year. In 2005, he was in contention going into the final round of THE PLAYERS and in 2006 he held a share of the 54-hole lead at the PGA Championship at Medinah.
So what’s the difference?
”About six years of experience, I suppose,” Donald joked.
The real answer was that Donald, like any accomplished musician or artist, which he just happens to be, has learned an awful lot.
“You learn about yourself, about your game, how to manage your emotions,” Donald said. “I think I know my swing a little bit better now. I trust myself more. Those are the main differences.
“The goal is to continually improve, to get better at every facet of the game. If I'm behind now than what I was in 2005, then my practice is going to waste.”