SAN FRANCISCO: Luke Donald is the top ranked player in the world and raking in a fortune. Last year, he finished at the head of the money lists in Europe and the United States, an unprecedented feat in the cutthroat world of professional golf.
He has won tournaments on both sides of the Atlantic this year, yet for all his success the Briton remains dogged by the one glaring omission in his résumé – a major championship title.
In the lead-up to this week’s U.S. Open, Donald has almost gone unnoticed. When Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy held their pre-tournament news conferences Tuesday, it was standing room only in the interview room.
When Donald came in, only a dozen or so reporters were there to quiz him on his preparations.
“It doesn’t really matter whether I’m ranked No. 1 or ranked No. 10 or 20 or 100. It doesn’t change the way I prepare or the way I practice,” he said.
“The focus for me is to continually try and improve, and get better in all facets of my game and that has no relevance to what my world ranking is.
“The only other slight distraction, which is less so for me because I kind of go under the radar, is as a No. 1 ranked player there’s more, a little bit more attention, a little bit more expectation.”
Although he has not won a major, Donald has come close a few times, finishing in the top five at the Masters, British Open and PGA Championship.
The only major where he has not finished in the top 10, is the U.S. Open, which is traditionally set up to be the hardest to play.
“U.S. Opens are tough. It challenges every part of your game from the first tee shot to when you walk off 18,” he said.
“I think out of all the Major Championships, this is the toughest test in a way. Most of the time par is a good score, and it’s a grind out there.”
Donald has not finished higher than 45th at the U.S. Open since he tied for 12th in 2006.
Despite his poor record, he is confident of a good showing this year at the Olympic Club, a tricky course which he thinks suits his game due to his preference for shaping the ball from left to right.
“I feel that most of the tee shots out there fit reasonably well with my eye. I feel more comfortable and more in control of the ball if I’m hitting a slight fade,” he said. “The draw, over the last past couple years has been a tougher shot for me to hit consistently and start on the right line.
“The fade is a little bit easier shot. I think that’s probably the same for the majority of the players.
“So as this course demands a few more of those, I feel like it suits my eye reasonably well.”