LOS ANGELES - Luke Donald turned convention on its head last year.
With so many players focused on trying to gain more distance in this power era, Donald believes he ascended to No. 1 in the world rankings because he quit chasing distance and focused on making his short game razor sharp.
“That might have changed some people’s perception, the fact that with my game I was able to get to No. 1, not being a modern-day power player,” Donald said on the eve of his 2012 PGA Tour debut at the Northern Trust Open.
Donald believes the fact that he got so much mileage out of his short game changed Tour dynamics.
“I think, perhaps, that might have changed people’s perspective on how they practice and what they need to work on,” Donald said.
Since the PGA Tour Player of the Year award was established in 1990, Donald is the second shortest hitter to win the honor (based on driving distance ranking). Jim Furyk was the shortest, winning it two years ago.
Donald ranked just 147th in driving distance last year, and he wasn’t all that straight, ranking 57th in driving accuracy, but he was first in putting (strokes gained), eighth in scrambling and may have been the best player in the world with a wedge in his hand, ranking first in approach shots from 100-125 yards.
“I certainly am not the best ball striker,” Donald said. “I’m not best off the tee, but with a good short game, I was able to get to the top of the world rankings.”
Donald said his wrist injury in ’08 was probably due to his focus back then on trying to gain more power.
“I got to the point where I was trying to hit the ball too hard,” Donald said.
After wrist surgery, his return began with lots of short game work that the wrist could withstand. He stayed on that focus.