Luke Donald returns to the scene of his greatest triumphs this week with a lot more at stake than when he was ruling the roost four years ago.
The former world No. 1 was back-to-back BMW PGA champion here at Wentworth in 2011, the year he also won the WGC-Accenture Match Play, and 2012, a season which also marked his last win on the PGA Tour, at the Transitions Championship.
Donald, 37, has seen his form and world ranking slide since, however, as he reinvented his swing. Currently number 60, he faces a battle to qualify for the next two Majors but a strong showing back on the West Course could give the Englishman a much-needed boost.
“There’s some things on the line that I haven’t had to worry about in the past,” Donald said yesterday. “Obviously staying in the top 60 for the US Open, getting in the top 50 for The Open, I’m obviously aware of these.
“I don’t want to have them be too much of a focus. The focus has to be on doing what I can be going through those processes of being ready each week and being prepared.
“I think going through all the swing changes, I probably got a little bit lost in that. I think I got a little bit too focused on my swing and spending a lot of time on the range. There just wasn’t enough structure there.
“I feel I’m back on a good path and hopefully we’ll see some better results.”
Donald called for the European Tour to relax its membership criteria which requires golfers to play a minimum 13 tournaments per year, something he and other American-based Europeans struggle to meet.
Yet he would be reluctant to follow compatriot Paul Casey’s route and concentrate all his efforts on the PGA Tour, at least if he could arrest his poor form.
“With my world ranking sliding, I’d have to seriously consider something like that next year if it had not gotten better. If you’re not in the Majors and world events, to play both tours, you’re just thinning yourself out too much.
“So that’s something I would have to consider. I haven’t even got close to thinking about that yet, but I would dearly love to continue being a member of both and obviously having a chance to play in The Ryder Cup.”
Donald believes Wentworth, though, offers a shorter hitter like himself a chance to rekindle his career, although such courses are in his opinion few and far between.
“Myself, Anders Hansen, Scott Drummond has won here; guys that don’t hit it that far can be successful around here,” he said.
“There are certainly some places like that. I just think golf course design in the last five years has become a little bit long and straight, and not thinking about that so much. I would like to see a mixture of golf courses. You can’t change all golf courses. Some golf courses should favour the long hitters, but there should be a mixture of golf courses that are favourable to the guys that shape shots, as well. I’d love to see more architects thinking about that, creating doglegs at 290 and narrowing some fairways and all that goes with it.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved