Featured Golf News
Donald Aiming to Make History
If Luke Donald finishes in the top-nine in this week's Dubai World Championship, the low-key Englishman will set a new record in professional golf that may never be broken. Donald, who turned 34 Wednesday, has already sewed up the earnings title on the PGA Tour and has the lead on the European Tour's money list by a margin of just over $1 million.
So if Donald comes through in the European Tour's season-ending tournament, he'll become the first player ever to win money titles on the world's two major tours.
The only player that can catch him in the Race to Dubai - the former Order of Merit - is Rory McIlroy, who's second on the list. McIlroy will need to win in Dubai and hope that Donald ends up outside the top-nine, a tall task since Donald has done that only three times this year on the European Tour.
Indeed, in 24 official events in America and Europe, Donald has 18 top-10 finishes while competing against some of the world's top fields.
On Wednesday, Donald met with reporters and discussed his fabulous year in which he earned $6,683,214 - roughly $350,000 more than Webb Simpson - on the PGA Tour and €3,856,394 ($5,158,700) in Europe. As noted in the interview below, Donald is very well aware of what's at stake.
MODERATOR: Welcome, Luke, thank you very much for joining us bright and early this morning. Obviously this week you have a chance to make a special bit of history, but I would imagine that's something that you have to put out of your mind until Sunday.
LUKE DONALD: Certainly it's hard to put out of your mind. It's there's been a lot of talk about it lately. Obviously the focus, as usual, no different to any other event: To come here and try and win the event. That's always the focus, and I think when you get away from changing that kind of focus, then you can get in trouble. So again, I'll be concentrating on that.
MODERATOR: It certainly was the case in the States, you finished with a flourish, I would imagine you would like that sort of final event on The European Tour, as well.
LUKE DONALD: Certainly. I'm looking forward to this week. Obviously there's a lot on the line, and Disney was a great week for me. It was nice to come up with the shots I needed to. Hopefully I can do that again.
Q. Did you watch what was going on in Hong Kong with a heavy heart, or is there a part of you thinking, bring it on?
LUKE DONALD: A bit of both. I think in a certain way, it would be nice to be sitting on the beach right now with a cocktail in my hand and not worrying about it too much. But that's not really my nature. I think there's nothing really easy in life. You have to kind of earn those successes, and I fully expected Rory to play well and put some pressure on me. And I think in terms of this tournament and the sponsors, they obviously made a huge deal that it's not such anticlimax; that is there still a possible outcome of more than just one winner. It's made me more focused this week and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Q. At the start of the season, winning both money lists, was that even on your compass? Was it something you felt was possible, or something you even speculated on?
LUKE DONALD: It's not something I really thought about at the beginning of the year. As time went on and I played and won the right tournaments, then, certainly, it became a goal. You know, it's something I've heard other players talk about in the past few years. I remember Ernie talking about it once and how hard it would be to do, but how satisfying it would be to be able to do that. I've obviously got this opportunity, and hopefully I can take it.
Q. When was the first time you thought about it then?
LUKE DONALD: Specifically I can't think off the top of my head. But obviously when you win a World Golf Championship or a major, I think because they count on both events, that gives you a huge boost. Wentworth obviously made it seem a little bit closer. But I don't know really specifically when I thought about it.
Q. How much satisfaction do you get out of the fact that obviously you're in this position, and were you to do it, just the very fact that you've had to do it as a member of both tours; so that obviously has a big impact on how you do your scheduling. You can't actually just schedule as you might want to completely, if you know what I mean.
LUKE DONALD: Well, I think it speaks to my consistency this year. I've had a tremendous year, winning four times, and being very consistent in all of the other tournaments. I think there's no way to have a chance to win both money lists, unless you are playing at a high level throughout the whole year. Just because I am spreading myself a little bit thinner than some of the other guys who are playing only one tour, you just have to play at a high level. That's obviously got me to the top of the World Rankings because of that, and yeah, it's obviously very, very satisfying and something I'm very proud of.
Q. Happy birthday, first of all.
LUKE DONALD: Thank you.
Q. Was last week necessary to get rid of some rust? I imagine you didn't do much work on your game during the layoff with the baby and also your father?
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I didn't do a lot. I had a few things going on. But last week really was no disrespect to the Nedbank, it's a great tournament with a great field, but it was an opportunity for me to play four rounds under a competitive situation, really find a little bit of timing and rhythm in my game, and that's what I kind of used it as. It served its purpose. I felt like it was a good week for me in terms of shaking off some rust.
Q. On and off this year, you've had a lot of trauma and a lot of up and downs, obviously on the course a lot of ups but maybe you could just talk about the year. You've had five weeks off, and your father and you have a new baby and then obviously all of the tournaments you've won. It must have been a lot of different emotions coming through this year.
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, certainly, the five weeks off, obviously with my dad's passing, it was unexpected. And to happen a few days before my second daughter was born was a wide range of emotions, something you can't ever prepare for, and it was very, very sad. Yeah, I lost a good friend in my dad and someone that I think brought me up in a proper way. He was never really as concerned about my golf as he was bringing me up as a decent person, you know with, good morals and someone that can set a good example for a way to live. He always taught me to treat people like I would like to be treated myself, and that's something I'll always remember my dad for. Yeah, it was tough, it was very, very tough. I think the birth of my second daughter did spread a little grace on the situation. It was not easy, but I was able to kind of concentrate my efforts on a new life and my kids and family, made everything a little bit closer.
Q. We know so much about your composure on the course, I just wonder how much of an influence your father had been in sort of your values in golf and the way you carry yourself.
LUKE DONALD: Well, as I said, both my parents were always very supportive of my golf. They were not pushy parents by any means. If I wanted to go out and practice, they were willing to take me to the course. They supported me in every way and very proud of what I accomplished. My dad, that was not his biggest priority with me. He always wanted to bring me up in the right way, and I think he did a great job.
Q. Following Gary Speed's death, you mentioned on Twitter your family experience and problems with depression; can you say anymore about that?
LUKE DONALD: I don't want to go too deeply into my family history, but certainly both my Mum and Dad have suffered a little bit with depression.
Q. Back to the money list; for you, obviously majors still one of your goals, but if you were to win this week and win both money lists, where does that rank and do you think it would put some of the quiet some of the critics that say, he has not won a major and doesn't deserve to be No. 1, what are your thoughts on that?
LUKE DONALD: No, the critics will always be there, and they make me stronger to be honest. Every time someone says I can't do anything, it just makes me work harder. So, you know, fine. I don't really mind that there's critics out there. I've had a tremendous year, and I'm excited about next year. I'm excited about playing the next four Majors. I think I'm a different player this year because of all of the victories. I feel more confident. Hopefully I can bring that game to the Majors. I would love to win one.
Q. What would it mean to win both money lists for you?
LUKE DONALD: Well, for me, it's just history. No one's officially done it ever before. I think that's pretty amazing. It's not easy to travel as much as you do playing both tours and to be able to adjust to time changes and all that. I've read some quotes from Steve Stricker and stuff, he doesn't travel that much and he says he went on a few events and he found it very difficult. It isn't easy but I've obviously managed to do that. If it all works out Sunday, that will be my biggest accomplishment.
Q. Do you ever wonder why your profile isn't higher? If you were Andy Murray, they would be having street parties now. Does that ever cross your mind?
LUKE DONALD: It's a nice thing in a way for me. I can go about my business and not get too bothered. Yeah, sometimes you do want that recognition, but in other ways, when I'm outside of my golf in my private life, I can do whatever I need and not get too bothered with people. Maybe it's just something to do with my personality. I just go about my business and get along with it. I'm not too out spoken, I'm not too controversial. I don't really believe in trying to hype up the crowd. I'm just going out there to do my job as best as I can do it.
Q. But do you believe that people recognize the scale of your achievement in getting to world No. 1?
LUKE DONALD: I don't know. I can't answer for anyone else. I certainly recognize what I've done. I think even getting to No. 1 and not winning a major is almost harder to do. There's obviously less points, and more points in Majors and if you win major, you really jump up. But to get to No. 1 without winning a major is quite a feat.
Q. Just to follow up, do you want more attention?
LUKE DONALD: Yes and no. You know, I think everyone wants to be validated for what they have done and be respected for that. But as I said, I enjoy the fact that I can go about living a normal life and not being distracted. I think a few years ago when I was working with Jim Fanning, 2006, his goal was - he asked me straight up, "Do you want to be No. 1." And at that point, having watched what Tiger has to go through, I said, "Not really. I don't really want to deal with that media on me."
But I think myself and Tiger, we're very different. Obviously he's had a tremendous career and gains a lot more attention than I do, and probably rightly so. But, you know, I think now that I'm No. 1, I feel quite comfortable, because it has not changed things too much. There is more attention, there is more media requests, there's more cameras on me, but off the course, it's not really a big change.
MODERATOR: When did you actually change your mind and say, yes, I do want to be No. 1?
LUKE DONALD: I think when the opportunity came about. Probably when Lee became No. 1, I kind of saw that although he was No. 1 in gaining more attention, really his life had not changed too much, either. I thought, well, that was a good trade off.
Q. Head to head with Rory on Thursday, just talk about the year he's had and what you've seen him do and how well you know him.
LUKE DONALD: I think we all expected Rory to come out and play great. He showed the world how great he can be and will be going forward at the U.S. Open. That was an unbelievable way to play in that event and finish it off like he did. I've always said, I think of the guys I've played out here on Tour, Rory has the most talent that I've ever played with. He's young and he's got a great future ahead of him and I see him winning lots of tournaments and lots of majors. I'm not surprised the year he's had. He probably has not won as much as he thought, but he's got time for that. I'm sure he'll put up a good challenge this week.
Q. Prior to last Sunday morning, Rory was in not in with a real good chance of winning The Race to Dubai, but how much has it increased your incentive now that he went out and did what he had to do last week in Hong Kong?
LUKE DONALD: Well, again, I think it's focused me. I think it's important for me for this event that it's not anticlimax that I'm the only one that has a chance. It's focused my attention to do what I do, and go up there and try and compete and win this event. You know, again, I've got to try not to worry about Rory. Fortunately, I've almost got 58 other people on my side, if any one of those win, they are doing me favor. But again, my mind set is really to go out there and try to win the event and take care of business that way.
Q. Can you remember the last time you played with Rory in a competition?
LUKE DONALD: I played with him a few times this year. Trying to remember where. Could have been a while. Did we play at the Honda? I'm not sure. I'm not really remembering either.
Q. Over the years, we've seen world No. 1, world No.2, the situations have dictated that they have had a less than friendly rivalry and the way you're talking about Rory, yours is exactly the opposite; a very friendly rivalry.
LUKE DONALD: I hope so. We practiced together two or three times last winter at the Bear's Club. I think Rory's a good guy and we get along. I mean, I'm not going to not like him just because of rivalries. I think part of the reason why we've done so well in Ryder Cups is because we do have good relationships on and off the course. We certainly don't want to lose to each other when we are on the course, but off the course, we get along and we have good chemistry when we come together in team event. That's a big plus for us when it comes to Ryder Cups.
Q. You brought up critics earlier on; do you think golfers are too sensitive?
LUKE DONALD: I don't know if golfers in general - I mean, if anyone - if you write something that doesn't seem fair, then you're going to have a little bit of a problem with it. But as I said, it doesn't necessarily get under my skin. It usually motivates me to work harder and prove people wrong. I don't mind people being criticizing of me, but just make sure that it's in the right way, and the things that are being said are truthful. You know, if people want to complain about me not winning Majors, yeah, that's fine. I haven't won a major. But when you relate it to being No. 1 and having to win major, I just don't understand that. It's a statistic/non opinion, and that's the way the World Rankings has always been.
Q. You actually said Rory has more talent than anyone I've ever played with; does that include Tiger Woods?
LUKE DONALD: I believe so, yeah, just in a pure talent - I know Tiger is very, very close and obviously I think Tiger's work ethic has always been tremendous, and his mindset, as well. I think his mindset is what has separated himself from the field when he was really at the top of the game. But in terms of talent, I think Rory has more talent.
Q. So where do you see Rory in ten years' time, how many majors do you think he could have?
LUKE DONALD: I think the sky's the limit. (Smiling).
Q. It's obviously been a transforming month and a half for you, I just wondered how the passing of your father and the birth of your second child have sort of changed your perspective and maybe changed your sense of what's important?
LUKE DONALD: It has not really changed. I've always said this in the media; there's no coincidence between my successes on the golf course and the birth of my first child. I think becoming a father really helped me as a golfer. I was able to let go of mistakes on the golf course. They didn't seem as important to me. Family will always be the most important thing to me. I don't think that the passing of my father changed that. That's just kind of the way I've always seen it. Especially since the birth of my children. I appreciate them a little bit more. Made me grown up a little bit more and again, it puts things into perspective that I'm going to try my arse off at golf. But if it doesn't work out, so be it. I've got a healthy family at home and that's the most important thing.
Q. Just on that same note, when you go out Thursday and you come in Sunday, will your father be on your mind, or do you kind of put all that stuff aside as you get on the course and try to block out all the personal stuff?
LUKE DONALD: When someone leaves you, you're always reminded of them in certain ways. I'm sure he'll be there with me. I'm not sure if I'll specifically try to think about my father, but yeah, it would be nice to win this one for him.
Q. I just wondered, if all goes well this week and the double money list by the end of Sunday, do you think this will become the new benchmark in the future and for future seasons, money lists, well, if you win the money list, well, you didn't win two like Luke Donald did; do you think that may be the new benchmark and schedules may change to try to emulate it?
LUKE DONALD: Well, I can't speak for Lee and Rory, but obviously they have both joined the U.S. Tour this year. I don't know if I've influenced that; whether seeing my successes, having a chance to win both money lists has influenced that, but maybe it will influence more people down the road to try and do that; I don't know. Obviously there's only a handful of guys that are a member of both tours, and it's not an easy thing to do, but I've got a great opportunity to do it.
Q. Do you hope to win the Money List on Sunday or do you expect to?
LUKE DONALD: I want to. (Laughter).
Q. Pardon my ignorance. Was your dad a golfer?
LUKE DONALD: My dad brought me into the game. He introduced me to the game. He played a little bit my first few years when I started. His dad was a good golfer. He was a scratch golfer. He died before I was born, my granddad, must be in my golfing genes.
Q. Did you play a lot when you were a kid; do you have any memories?
LUKE DONALD: We didn't play a lot but he would take me out sometimes, even mornings before school, like 7.00am we would go and play a quick nine holes. I have fond memories of that. He didn't play a lot, but you know, his big line was he taught me everything he knew. He always took full credit for my success (smiling).
MODERATOR: Well, Luke, I'm sure you'll do him proud this week. Thank you very much for your time today.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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