Donald set for PGA debut at Riviera

Luke Donald aims to improve on previous visits to the Riviera Country Club when he makes his PGA Tour debut this week at the Northern Trust Open.

Luke Donald aims to improve on previous visits to the Riviera Country Club when he makes his PGA Tour debut this week at the Northern Trust Open.

The event is played on the historic shot-makers course that should suit the Englishman's game but he missed the cut last season after finishing 12th and 13th the previous two years in Pacific Palisades, California.

"I don't think I've performed that well here as a rule," the 30-year-old from Hertfordshire said. "I think I've only made three out of six cuts, and haven't finished as high up as I should do on a very classic golf course that should suit my game.

"I have started to play a little bit better the last few years and I'm starting to get to grips with this course.

"I think it's a course you need to hole some putts on, obviously, and manage your game around here very well.

"Still, it's a beautiful place to come. I enjoy the golf course - I think it's one of the better courses we play all year."

The course may be one of the best, but the world's best player is not in the field. Instead, Tiger Woods is at home gearing up for next week's Match Play Championship, a WGC event with a purse of $8m (€5.5m).

Not that Donald - or any other player - is ducking Woods, but no one is crying about his absence either.

"The way he's been playing, you probably feel like you have a little bit of a better chance to win if he's not in the field, just to be honest," Donald said.

"Every time he's playing, he's finishing first or second since the middle of the summer. So he's obviously a dominant player in the game right now, and deserves to be the best player in the world and have that title.

"I don't think I approach an event any different whether he's in the field or not. I'm going out there trying to play my own game. It doesn't really matter what he's doing. I can't control that, and all I can control is the way I'm playing and hopefully make a few birdies and have a chance to win."

Donald already has a pair of top-25 finishes this season on the European Tour at the Qatar Masters and Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. He delayed his PGA Tour debut to make sure he got off to a good start in his quest for a place on the European Ryder Cup team.

"It's obviously a huge deal for us, as well, the Europeans, and a huge deal for myself," Donald said. "I've had two very, very memorable Ryder Cups and one of my best experiences on the golf course have been on the Ryder Cups.

"I've been lucky to be on two winning teams and I hope I'll be on the team again this year.

"That was part of the reason why I went to the Middle East. One, because I heard a lot of good things about it, and two, because I want to play just a few more events in Europe just to rack up some points."

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