Donald nearly quit last year amid rankings decline


Once the top-ranked golfer in the world, Luke Donald's decline in form reached the point last year where he seriously considered walking away from the game.

Donald stood atop the world rankings as recently as 2012, but last summer he was outside the OWGR top 50 and faced qualifying for both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. With his game in decline and a change in coaches yielding few dividends, Donald reportedly contemplated his long-term fate.

"My confidence had taken a big knock and I asked myself if I wanted to keep doing this," Donald told the U.K.'s Telegraph. "I wasn't enjoying it, finding it so very hard and could not see much light at the end of the tunnel."

Donald opted to stick it out, and he turned to a sports psychologist in Dr. Michael Gervais. After a short stint with Chuck Cook, he also returned to longtime swing coach Pat Goss with whom he had worked since his days at Northwestern.

"There was a time where I kept looking at the world rankings and kept seeing myself slipping," Donald said. "And I think that's the wrong approach. I've always been most successful when I have a plan and stick to it. Every day try to get a little better, incremental improvement."

The second half of Donald's year saw the Englishman earn spots at both Chambers Bay and St. Andrews, the latter resulting in a T-12 finish. Now 38 years old, Donald will begin his 2016 campaign next week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, followed by a spot at the CareerBuilder Challenge the following week.

Donald hasn't won on the PGA Tour or European Tour since 2012, and at No. 78 in the world he has yet to qualify for any of the first three majors of the year. Despite his recent struggles, Donald remains optimistic that a return to his prior elite form lies just around the corner.

"I think I have a little bit of a way to go, but I'm feeling confident that I can get back to at least close to the level I was a few years ago," he said. "I felt like it was very close the last few months. It just didn't quite click. I haven't had that one breakout win to kind of get the confidence going enough."