Donald Looks to Extend Team Success Rate

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2006 WGC - Barbedos World Cup ST. JAMES, Barbados -- Something about team golf simply works for Luke Donald.
 
The former Northwestern standout is 5-1-1 in his two Ryder Cup appearances, including a 3-0 mark this year to help Europe retain the trophy with an easy win over the United States. He was 7-1 in Walker Cup play before turning pro in 2001, and paired with Paul Casey to win the World Cup for England in 2004.
 
This week, he'll team with David Howell at the World Cup in Barbados -- the final event of the World Golf Championships season.
 
'I've been very fortunate in my career to have a lot of success in team events,' Donald said Tuesday after a practice round. 'I've been on two winning Walker Cup teams, two winning Ryder Cup teams ... they've been very kind to me. I don't know why I've done so well.'
 
Donald and Howell finished tied for second at last year's World Cup, two strokes behind Wales' entry of Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge in an event where rain washed out the final round.
 
There are 24 two-man teams in this year's field at Sandy Lane, including Dodd and Dredge, Ryder Cup teammates Stewart Cink and J.J. Henry of the U.S., and the Irish duo of Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley -- who have been in the World Cup in all seven years since it was added to the WGC schedule.
 
It's a stroke-play event with a match-play feel. The format calls for four-ball (best ball) competition Thursday and Saturday, then foursomes (alternate shot) Friday and Sunday.
 
'You have to play some good golf to get it around here,' Donald said. 'It's an interesting format and if the wind stays like this you're going to have to play good golf.'
 
Sandy Lane's best golf-related claim to fame is that it hosted Tiger Woods' wedding to Elin Nordegren two years ago, and that prompted some speculation that Woods would return for this event. But he declined, as did several other top Americans before Cink agreed to play World Cup for the second straight year and chose Henry to join him.
 
The 7,069-yard track is usually breezy, with trade winds steadily blowing off the Atlantic Ocean -- and making it seem, at times, much longer.
 
'There are plenty of birdie chances out there,' Howell said. 'Don't get me wrong, it's not the world's hardest golf course. But it's like the British Open, a mix of a few easy holes tee-to-green if you can hit it straight and then a few tough ones as well. It's no cinch.'
 
This tournament comes at a busy time of year for Donald, who was in Atlanta for the Tour Championship four weeks ago, then Shanghai to play for the Goodwill Trophy, now back across the Atlantic to Barbados. From here, he'll head to California to defend his title in the Target World Challenge next week.
 
At No. 9 in the current world rankings, Donald is the second-ranked player in the field, one spot below Harrington.
 
And as England's highest-ranked player, he got to choose his teammate -- going again with Howell instead of Casey.
 
'I just went with the philosophy of choosing whoever was lowest and at the point when I had to choose, David was lowest,' said Donald, who had 10 top-10 finishes in 18 PGA TOUR events this year, earning over $3 million. 'So, you know, nothing against Paul. I'm sure Paul and I would have made a good team as well.'
 
Then again, any team that has Donald -- who turns 29 when the tournament opens Thursday -- usually does pretty well. Counting his Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and World Cup appearances, Donald has been part of five wins in six tries.
 
'I enjoy it. I kind of relish it,' Donald said. 'And I've been lucky to have good partners every time.'
 
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