Of course, the buzz is that its playing longer now than it did in 2002 (the last time the PGA Championship was held at Hazeltine). There are three par 5s over 600 yards, but that could be a good thing. Now, nearly everyone in the field is going to have to lay up. I dont see many players reaching these par 5s in two. That plays to my advantage because I have a strong wedge game, and Ill be laying up anyway. Ill look to wedge it close and make that 10-, 15-footer for birdie.
This strategy worked well for Zach Johnson a few years ago at the Masters. He laid up on every par 5 and made a ton of birdies. It just goes to show you theres more ways to win a major than just hitting the ball far. I wasnt a very long hitter when I won at Hazeltine in 99. I remember playing with both Charles Howell and Ryuji Imada, and they were hitting their tee shots a good 20 yards past me. But I was able to control my ball and stay out of the rough, which you have to do around here.
Putting, of course, will be critical, as it is at every major. My putting stats have been really good this year (Donald ranks No. 2 on the PGA Tour in putting from inside 5 feet -- 592 of 603 putts made, or 98.2 percent), and hopefully Ill have the putter going this week.
I work quite on bit on drills from four to eight feet, which is probably why Ive been pretty tidy around the hole this season. One of my favorite drills is to putt to four different holes, placing balls down 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 feet away from each hole. I make sure each hole is different so I have some putts that break left to right, right to left, uphill and downhill. My goal is to make 15 of 20, or 75 percent, which is slightly better than the Tour average from four to eight feet. If I dont make 15 out of 20, I start from scratch and keep going until I do. I havent made all 20 yet, but I did make 19 once only to miss the last putt. That hurt!
I need to keep trying; Ill get there.
Editors Note: Two-time PGA Tour winner and European Ryder Cup team member Luke Donald will be writing a monthly column for GolfChannel.com throughout the remainder of the 2009 season. The focus of the column will be What Im Working On, and will give you an inside look into life on the PGA Tour from one of the games elite players.