Unassuming Donald ready for British Open spotlight
Luke Donald goes in search of his first major title at the 36th time of trying when he plays in his home event, the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's.
Associated Press, December 2011
LONDON — Luke Donald remains unassuming despite being golf's top-ranked player for 52 of the past 59 weeks.
Take his visit to Wimbledon last Friday, for example. Donald had lunch with Australian pop star Kylie Minogue before spending a long afternoon in the Royal Box at the All England Club watching the Wimbledon semifinals, including watching British hope Andy Murray play.
"She actually wasn't aware that I was a golfer," Donald said. "So I had to mention that to her.
"But her boyfriend is a keen golfer and she turned around and said, 'He's a professional golfer.' And he turned around and goes, 'Yes, I know.'"
Despite his recently elevated status, Donald has managed to keep a low profile compared to Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
That could all change soon, however. Starting next Thursday, Donald goes in search of his first major title at the 36th time of trying when he plays in his home event, the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's.
It will be the sixth major in a row where the 34-year-old Englishman has gone into a major as No. 1, but he has always come up short.
"It goes back to just continually learning from those experiences. You know, some of the failures, some of the good majors I've had, too," he said.
"But I've realized that I do get a little bit more anxious, a little bit more uptight and I've got to try and control that, and that's going to kind of be the priority — go out there and try to play a little bit more freedom, a little bit more fun, and hopefully that's the key to getting off to a better start. And once I get off to a better start, I feel like I'm going to be there and have a chance."
In that respect, Donald isn't too dissimilar to Murray, who has yet to win a major in tennis.
When Murray struggled to hold back the tears after losing to Roger Federer in Sunday's Wimbledon final in front of an expectant British public, it was something Donald could empathize with.
"Absolutely," Donald said. "I think you could see how much it meant to him at the end there.
"You know, we're all trying as hard as we can to try and be as successful as we can, especially in the big ones. And it means a lot to him and it means a lot to me."
Donald is defending his Scottish Open title this week at the Castle Stuart course in Inverness — his first tournament after three weeks off the circuit to refocus prior to a busy run of events, culminating in the Ryder Cup at the end of September.
He used it to fine-tune his swing after an uncharacteristically poor couple of days at last month's U.S. Open, at which he missed the cut.
"I've got a busy schedule coming up, playing 10 of the next 13 weeks, so I spent a lot of time working more diligently probably on my swing than I usually do," Donald said. "I obviously wasn't very happy with how I hit at the U.S. Open ... a few of the old habits crept in."
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