Luke Donald riding momentum to Ryder Cup

BY foxsports • September 15, 2010

One of the quiet stories of the golf season, and the PGA Tour playoffs, has been the resurgence of Luke Donald.

The 32-year-old Englishman, who appears to be all the way back from left wrist surgery two years ago, is seventh in the FedEx Cup standings heading into the Tour Championship next week.

And he figures he's right about on schedule.

"No issues (with the wrist) at all, no," he told reporters recently. "I think it's two years in August (since the surgery). They say it takes about a year, year and a half for it to settle down, and it really feels pretty good now."

As good a player as Donald has been, the complaint about him has always been that for all of his talent, he does not win often enough.

His second and last victory on the PGA Tour came four years ago in the Honda Classic, and he has had only five official titles around the world over the course of his career.

You don't have to remind him.

"I need to win more tournaments," said Donald, who reached a career-high sixth in the World Golf Rankings earlier this year. "Just contending isn't good enough if you want to be the best.

"You gotta go out there and beat the best continually, which I haven't done in the last few years."

Donald came to the U.S. in 1997 to attend Northwestern, won the NCAA Championship in 1999 and stuck around to graduate in 2001 with a degree in art theory and practice.

He still lives in the Chicago area and plays the PGA Tour full-time, but it was a three-week trip across the Atlantic that probably earned him one of Colin Montgomerie's three Captain's Picks for the European team in the Ryder Cup next month.

After finishing second in the BMW Championship at Wentworth outside London, Donald captured the Madrid Masters for his first victory anywhere in four years, then wound up third in the Celtic Manor Wales Open on the course that will be host to the Ryder Cup.

Even though he was playing in the PGA Tour playoffs when the picks were made, he's positive his playing vacation in Europe landed him on the team.

"I sat down and really thought about my schedule and the best way to make the team," said Donald, who recently threw out the first pitch before a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

"I went over and played a good chunk of my year in Europe. After the Players Championship in early May, my next PGA Tour event excluding the majors was the Canadian Open in July.

"That's when I went over and chose to try to make the team."

Donald could not make the team two years ago because he was recovering from surgery, but he had a 5-1-1 record in the two previous Ryder Cups, both European victories.

He has a 4-0-0 record in foursomes and is an ideal match-play teammate because of his straight and steady game.

"In Luke Donald, we have someone that can compete in foursomes and in four-ball golf, and not just in singles," Montgomerie said while announcing his selections.

"He's played seven times in Ryder Cup play, Luke Donald, and has only lost in one particular game."

Donald and Paul Casey, who played at Arizona State, have endured some criticism in Europe for staying in the U.S. after college, marrying U.S. citizens and becoming "Americanized."

In his stint at Wrigley, he didn't exactly prove them wrong when he fired a strike to pitcher Andrew Cashner of the Cubs.

"It was a pretty good pitch," an impressed Cashner said. "He had good speed on it, too."

Donald also did a pretty good job of singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch, saying that his goal was not to butcher it the way Mike Ditka did.

However, had he not gone back to his roots to make the Ryder Cup team, Donald might be having an even better season on the PGA Tour.

In 19 events on the best circuit in the world, he has placed in the top 10 six times, claiming seconds in the Northern Trust Open and the Deutsche Bank Championship and thirds in the Verizon Heritage and the RBC Canadian Open.

"This year, certainly, I feel like I've played better, and I've moved up the World Rankings," said Donald, who tied for 25th in the Tour Championship last year after missing it in the first two years of the PGA Tour playoffs.

"I've won a tournament again, so I'm definitely moving in the right direction. I think there's still room for some more improvement, but it's nice to see a little bit more consistency in my golf and, as I said, getting back in the winner's circle is big."

That circle at East Lake would be his biggest yet.


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