The Donald Part II


No, not that Donald.
Were talking about Great Britains Luke Donald here. And now that Tiger Woods has announced that he is skipping the Mercedes Championships in Maui early next month and that we wont see him back on tour until mid-January in San Diego, I dont think we can write or say enough about the young Englishman.
When Luke Donald was a student-athlete at Northwestern University, he played in an event called the Chicago Open.
The purse was healthy and the field was loaded with talented club pros just itching to take Donald down and supplement their relatively modest incomes by capturing the first prize check.
Donald, still an amateur at the time, beat them all.
I remember talking to one of the club pros afterward and asking him if Donald was long enough off the tee to survive against all the icons and prodigies on the PGA and European Tours.
Hes long enough, the club pro told me, his voice rising in volume for emphasis. But you dont have to be THAT long when you hit the ball dead square in the MIDDLE of the club face EVERY single time you swing.
Now Luke Donald'he of the metronomic, picture-book action and modest physical stature'is poised to make a run at the top 10 in the world.
He has played key roles on victorious Walker and Ryder Cup teams. He has won in Europe and the States. In 2005 he posted top 5s at both The Players Championship and the Masters. And he is still in his 20s.
Sunday in California Donald blazed to a final round 64 at The Target World Challenge to catch and pass Darren Clarke, Michael Campbell and Padraig Harrington while annexing $1.3 million to his bank account.
Earlier this week my Golf Channel website colleague, George White, importantly pointed out how stats dont tell the whole story with Donald. Luke isnt especially long, by tour standards. Or straight.
What he is is imperturbable. There is a serenity about Donald on the golf course that you would never expect to find from the other Donald.
And it served him well at the Target World Challenge. I talked to Pat Goss about this. Goss coaches mens golf at Northwestern and still serves as Donalds swing monitor. He spent three days with Donald in California early last week.
And, Goss said, when Donald arrived from South Africa where he had played in the Nedbank Challenge the week before, he was fighting serious jet lag and late season fatigue. Wednesday was especially disheartening in the pro-am. If you had seen Donald that day, you would not have dreamed him to be the guy who would be hoisting the trophy Sunday.
Goss and Donald worked mostly on putting. Then on Thursday the face of Donalds driver cracked on the front nine, forcing him to take the club out of play. Ever have jet lag? It can make you cranky. Thats how Donald felt after six birdies and six bogeys produced an opening round 72.
Titleist reinforced Donald with a new driver before Fridays round. And he responded with 68-68-64 over the last 54 holes.
Luke Donald continues to spearhead the English Revolution in golf. Prior to Target, he was one of 11 of his countrymen to be ranked in the top 100 in the world.
Keep your eye on him in 2006. And dont expect him to start missing the middle of the clubface any time soon.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt