2012 PGA Championship Interview Transcript -- Luke Donald

 

KELLY ELBIN:  World No. 1 ranked Luke Donald, joining us at the 94th PGA Championship here at the Ocean Course.  This will be Luke's ninth PGA Championship.

Tied for eighth last year at the Atlanta Athletic Club, where it was really hot.

Luke, obviously you've got some weather issues the first couple of days.  Thoughts on the golf course, and also with the weather issues that have been going on the last couple days from your perspective.

LUKE DONALD:  Yeah, obviously I think weather could play a large part in this tournament.  I teed off this morning at 7:00 a.m.  It was 25 mile an hour wind, lasted about 45 minutes.  Got called in for half an hour, came back out, and the wind was completely different and five miles an hour.

Obviously the conditions are changing from hour to hour, and that's making it difficult, this course.  But you catch it yesterday when I played 18 holes, and really barely any wind, and the course offers you some opportunities.

You know, under some tougher conditions, this is a very tough test.

KELLY ELBIN:  Any golf course that you've played before that may compare to this course or this course may compare to?

LUKE DONALD:  Well, Pete Dye courses always have a similar look to it.  It somewhat reminds me of TPC Sawgrass, a little bit of Whistling Straits in there.  But a little bit of a mixture of everything.

But certainly very distinct features of Pete Dye, raised greens, a lot of falloffs, some sharp edges on the bunkers, little pot bunkers everywhere.  If you're in play, it's pretty good, but if you get out of position, you can find yourself in some tricky positions.

Q.  Did you like it?


LUKE DONALD:  I did quite like it, yeah.  It has an interesting mix of holes.  The front nine maybe offers a little bit more opportunity with some shorter par 4s.  You know, it feels reasonably generous off the tee after last week.  But it has some good have a but a pretty strong finish.

Q.  As you know, last 16 majors have been won by 16 different players, including 12 first timers.  How much does that help you when you see a lot of other first timers are winning, and why do you think there's so much parity in golf right now?

LUKE DONALD:  Well, I think I've talked about this before, I just think right now the fields are very deep.  A lot of guys have opportunities to win.  There isn't that one guy that is really distancing himself from the rest.  The more I guess the longer the streak goes, the more encouragement it gives to those guys who haven't yet won a major, like myself.

But I'm not sure if it changes anything for me.  I'm not sure if it gives me too much more encouragement.  I continue to focus on what I can do and hopefully give myself a chance on Sunday.

Q.  In terms of you and the majors, do you think you turned something of a corner at Lytham?

LUKE DONALD:  In terms of my mental approach, I think yes.

Certainly coming off the U.S. Open, I was very disappointed how I kind of handled the situation mentally.  I didn't come in hitting the ball that great, and maybe that added to some of the anxiety.

But certainly I think there was a little bit of a breakthrough, just realizing at The Open Championship, that no matter how I'm hitting it physically, there's always a way to mentally be on top; have that control of how I want to feel come Thursday; how I want to approach the tournament with the correct mindset.

Certainly I did that very well at The Open Championship, and as a result I also played pretty well.

Q.  You had an interesting line last week about feeling you get the proper respect from your peers as the No. 1 player in the world, as opposed to maybe public perception that you don't get the same viewpoint.  I'm wondering if you think not having won a major has a role in that; and secondly, in terms of strategies going into a major, you seem to have tried a lot of different strategies.  I just wonder, is there anything you haven't tried in terms of your approach going into majors?

LUKE DONALD:  Yeah, I got asked about the respect question last week.  And I do feel amongst my peers, I am respected, and I'm not sure if respect is the right word.

I think I am respected outside of among the general public in terms of being a good, honest, decent guy.  Obviously I don't get the following of Tiger, and not many people do, or probably no one does, or that of Rory.  I think those two guys do have a certain star appeal.  That's the way it is.  I mean, that's how it is, and I understand that.

But yeah, certainly.  If I was to pick up a major, I think the popularity, and the fact that I would be a little bit better known would certainly increase.

In terms of preparation, I feel like I've tried everything.  In the end it just comes down to being able to perform during that week.

You know, I've tried coming to tournament sites early, spending a lot of time, and I've gone the other way.  The last two majors, the last Royal Lytham and this week, I haven't played a practice round before this week.  We'll see how I do this week, but again, I think it's more important for me to be able to control that mindset.

Q.  And you might not play a practice round this week, who knows.

LUKE DONALD:  I've already played 27.

Q.  How would you compare whatever sense of urgency you have going into the Masters in April compared with the PGA in August, the last one?

LUKE DONALD:  Probably less a sense of urgency.  I think coming off such a great year last year, I maybe let that heighten my expectations a little bit.

Certainly coming into Augusta I was hitting the ball great and really didn't come close to getting close to my expectations.

You know, as I said, I think it was an important lesson for me at the U.S. Open, the fact that I kind of picked it up on myself that I was getting so anxious and pressing too hard and wanting to be successful.

And I think after that week of failing and kind of realizing that a lot of the mindset I had going into that week was a part of the failure.  That's really helped me.

And also just kind of stepping back and knowing that seeing people like Ernie win; knowing that I've got plenty of more majors in me.  If I keep preparing and playing and being as consistent as I have that one of these will open up for me.

Q.  A couple of things.  First of all, I've been ticking a few boxes, world No. 1, Money List.  Are you at a stage of your career where perhaps you need to concentrate almost exclusively on the majors?  And on a totally different tack, can I ask you whether there's anything about the Olympics that has grabbed your attention or fired your imagination?

LUKE DONALD:  Well, I've certainly concentrated on the majors for the last 10 years.  I mean, I don't think that's really changed.  Obviously in the last couple years I've played a lot better and I feel like I have a better chance at winning them.

But in terms of the preparation, again, I'm always planning my schedule.  Always gearing my practice around trying to peak for these four events, and that's no different this year to five, six years ago.  That's always been the same.

In terms of the Olympics, I think a lot of it's been very inspiring.  You know, the fact that you have one event every four years to really work hard, to see some of the guys who don't perform and to see some of the guys that perform and win gold, I mean, there's a lot of raw emotions there.

A lot of it has really impressed me.

Q.  Tiger made it a point to say that the short game was especially important this week on this golf course.  Do you think that's more so than other major championship venues, and if so, why?

LUKE DONALD:  Well, it goes back to Pete Dye.  A lot of the greens are raised, a lot of falloffs.  If it becomes windy here, you are going to miss some greens, and getting up and down is not easy.

It's a different kind of grass than we usually play week in, week out.  Paspalum is a grass that I'm not sure we've ever played a Tour event on before.  There is a few different areas where bermuda grows in, too.

I mean, you can there's four or five different grasses out here amongst the paspalum, different types of bermuda.  You can certainly hit into the rough and be on some bermuda where the ball sets up, and you can get into some bermuda where it sits right down at the bottom.  You're going to need a little bit of fortune when it comes to that.

But around the greens, yeah, it is tricky.  I think anyone who has good fundamentals that can use the bounce of their lob wedge, have some creativity is going to fare a lot better than someone that has poor technique.

Q.  More Olympic stuff:  Which of the athletes in team GB have you been inspired by, and winning a gold medal, where would that be ranked in your achievements?

LUKE DONALD:  Well, watching these Olympics certainly has inspired me a lot in terms of having that wish to be there in four years, to have an opportunity to also win a gold medal.

Obviously we do have our four majors, and that's the tough part about the Olympics.  Is it the greatest thing that you could win in your sport?  And I'm not sure how to answer that question.

Obviously I'd probably still put a major above that right now.  I've never experienced an Olympics.  But I know how highly regarded majors are.

Some of the athletes that have inspired me?  I got to see a lot of it I've seen tape delayed, which takes the edge off when you know who's going to win.  But I think Mo Farah's last lap was pretty special; obviously Jessica Ennis, living up to the expectation that was put on her shoulders.  She was kind of the poster child for the Olympic Games.  I'm trying to think now, what have we won, 20 Golds?  Quite a few.

I'll think of some of the others I've watched.  I don't know.  They're all inspiring in their own way.

KELLY ELBIN:  Luke Donald, thank you very much.  Good luck this week.

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