Q&A with Luke Donald


Q.  Everyone, we are joined by Luke Donald, very close to success last week at East Lake, didn't quite manage it.  Jim Furyk just got up and down there at the last, but a fantastic way to prepare for the Ryder Cup, to come in on such a high and in such good form.

 LUKE DONALD:  Yeah, absolutely.  My form has been good the last few weeks.  I feel like three out of the four playoff events, I had a chance to win.
 You know, it's nice to be in contention and give yourself chances to win.  My game feels pretty solid, and hopefully I can bring that form to this week.

Q. And how does the course differ from June in the sunshine and later with the extra softness here?

 LUKE DONALD:  To be honest, the course has drained very well so far.  It seems like the balls are running on the fairway and it's damp, but the course is good.  There's a lot more rough and the rough is thick, and it's hard to get to the greens if you're hitting in the rough, so there's a premium on putting it in the fairway.

 Q.  Did you come across on the American Team flight?

 LUKE DONALD:  No, I did not.  That was a misprint.  I was on a British Airways flight.  They said they had room, but only in the toilet; I declined.

 Q. If you win, will you go back on the American Team  
LUKE DONALD:  Maybe, just to gloat.  (Laughter).  No, I'm not travelling back straightaway, so I won't be going back with them, either. 
Q.  What sort of vibes have you picked up in the team room in the first evening you've had together in.

 LUKE DONALD:  Good vibes.  Very relaxed atmosphere so far, we are just trying to feel our feet and try to start that team bonding process.  You know, trying to maybe chat to guys you haven't chatted so much before and find out a bit more about them.  We know each other, pretty well, most of us, but some of us have not really spent a lot of time together.  It's all about trying to ask some questions, you know, what have they been up to, all that kind of stuff.  A little bit more team bonding and it's been a very relaxed atmosphere so far.

 Q.  Since your last Ryder Cup, the FedEx series has obviously started in the States.  Is it a concern for you that the Americans are going to be that much sharper because of this post season series of events; whereas, you were the only European player competing in it and all of them are going to be really on top of their game?

 LUKE DONALD:  Well, there's still events over here to play in.  I know some of the Europeans have taken a couple of weeks off.  You could look at it both ways.  Some people like to prepare by spending some time at home and working on their game.  Some people like to lead up to an important event by playing a lot.  I think it's all individual. But we had a couple of guys, obviously Rory and Ian Poulter play three out of the four playoff events.  Harrington played last week.  I'm not really worried about form.

 Q.  I happened to be there on the 15th, and saw that you noticed there was no fairway short of the green.  Monty said that might change; so have you had words?

 LUKE DONALD:  Well, I think being at home, you get to kind of set up the course however you want and design it around the strengths of your players.  As a team, the American Team are probably a little bit longer.  They have some really long hitters that could probably reach that green easily.  Some of our team probably will struggle to reach that, if the wind is in our face like it was today.
 So, you know, it's definitely something that we'll talk about tonight.  I think tonight's meeting is talking about the course, where we want the tees, all that kind of stuff.  Just to give us a slight advantage, which you are allowed to do as a home team.

 Q.  Do you like the fairway back?

 LUKE DONALD:  Certainly the thinking about that hole is it's not that easy of a lay up down the left side.  It would be nice to go for it and if there was a little bit of short grass in front of the green, it's a good place for me to aim, for sure.  I would probably be in favor of at least cutting down the rough just a little bit there.

 Q.  You obviously had a fantastic payday on Sunday, but you missed out on the sort of money that for most people is pretty incomprehensible.  For you, is it something that you can get over very quickly that you missed out on such a massive jackpot?  Did it take you any time to get over that?

 LUKE DONALD:  The disappointment wasn't to do with the money.  That's not my money to start with.  Anything I earn is bonus.  Certainly I didn't feel like I lost 7 million.  And it wasn't my money to start with or whatever.
 It was disappointing I didn't have a chance to pick up the trophy and win the tournament.  I've come close a few times this year, and finished second three times and I think third a couple of times.  That's more disappointing; the fact that I haven't got to the winner's circle yet.
 But the money is really very secondary.

 Q.  Two questions.  One is about the rookies in the competition.  Can you tell me what your observations are about how they are handling it?  And the second question is, which two Americans are going to make the most formidable pairing?

 LUKE DONALD:  The rookies on our side seem to be handling it very well.  I think our rookies are very experienced.  I know that one of them, Martin Kaymer, Major Champion, he's been in impressive situations.  The Molinari brothers have done very well; Peter Hanson.  Everyone seems very relaxed so far.  I didn't play with any of the rookies today, so I'm not sure how they played. From what I can tell, they are enjoying the experience so far.  What was the second, the two most formidable Americans?

 Q.  Yes, if they were paired together?

 LUKE DONALD:  I don't know, I'd probably go with ranking, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods probably, or I guess Mickelson is up there, but didn't seem to work very well together before. Steve Stricker and Tiger seem to get along very well, and they seem like a good pairing and they have been successful in the past, I believe.

 Q.  Having come second to Jim at the weekend, how much would you like to face Jim on Sunday, and how much possible extra motivation might that opportunity present to you?

 LUKE DONALD:  Again, I wasn't playing with Jim in the last round.  It's a little bit different scenario.  To be honest, the main goal this week is for the team to get 14 1/2 points, whoever I play, and it doesn't really matter.
 Jim will be a tough opponent if I get paired with him.  He's a consistent player, and I think we have similar games.  It will be a close match.  But to be honest, as long as the team gets 14 1/2 points, that's all that matters to me.

 Q.  Monty has described you as a modern day Bernhard Langer, he sort of sees you in that role here.

 LUKE DONALD:  That I hit it short like he does (chuckling).

 Q.  How do you feel about that?  Is that something that sort of strikes a chord with you?

 LUKE DONALD:  Yeah, I don't have quite his record in majors over his career, and that's quite a compliment.  Bernhard Langer is someone who really thought his way around the golf course.  I think he worked diligently on his game.  Got the most out of his game.  And in today's modern era, you know, sometimes it's a little bit tough on some of these courses we play for guys like me to succeed.  I've done pretty well, but I'd like to win a little bit more than I have.
 Playing with Harrington today, looking at his record, he went through a patch where he had plenty of seconds for a long time, and then broke through and won three majors.  So you never give up.  You keep trying and I think that was also a characteristic of Bernhard Langer.

 Q.  And one other thing.  Monty also has talked many times about feeling somewhat uncomfortable as a wild card, having not qualified out right for The Ryder Cup Team as he did in 2004.  Do you have any of that kind of feeling at all?

 LUKE DONALD:  To be honest, no, I don't really feel uncomfortable.  I just feel like with the selection process this year, it's always going to be tough for the guys that concentrate in America.  And we got to the scenario where we had five or six guys that could easily have been picked.  I was one of the fortunate ones to get picked.  But you know, in any other year, I think we all would have made the team quite comfortably.
 I feel like I've played well enough to deserve my place on the team.  But you know, from now on, I don't think anyone on the team sees me as a wild card or someone who made it automatically.  We are just 12 guys trying to win The Ryder Cup.