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June 29, 2005

Luke Donald


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Luke Donald, thank you for joining us, coming back to your adopted hometown for a week at the Cialis Western Open. You've had a good season so far, four Top 10s, a Top 5 at The Masters, and I'm sure you're excited about this week at Cog Hill.

LUKE DONALD: Yeah, good start to the season. I've obviously played well in some of the bigger events, Players Championship and The Masters, and really looking forward to this week. This is obviously a special week for me; Chicago has really become my kind of adopted second home after England, and a tournament I'd love to win.

Q. Talk about your season. What have you done to kind of take your game to the next level as you mentioned, four Top 10s and you've been on the cusp of winning big tournaments on a couple of occasions.

LUKE DONALD: Well, I think success breeds more success, and I've felt a lot more confident about my game. At the end of last year I won a couple of times in Europe and forced my way onto the European Ryder Cup team, and I think that gave me a lot of confidence, knowing that I could play with the big guys. You know, my game has gone from strong to stronger from then on. I think just feeling that confidence has really helped my game.

Q. The question about your two passions, which came first, the passion for golf or for art, and how long did it take for you to come up with the idea and then execute it?

LUKE DONALD: Well, I would say golf is my No. 1 passion. I started playing golf when I was eight years old. I'm not sure when I started doodling with art. It was probably a little bit after that, during high school sometime.

The actual painting took about 10 to 15 hours of work. The idea you know, I knew some of my earlier paintings, I've always worked in trying to create a movement within the sport, and that's what I wanted to accomplish here, something rather than just doing a stationary shot of the golfer. I also wanted to correlate to the Cialis Western Open by painting a picture that people would recognize and associate it with the Cialis Western Open, and so I chose it's hard to tell a little bit, but it is Stephen Ames. His swing is actually very accurate. That's exactly what his swing looks like. The features of his face and stuff is a little bit questionable, whether it's him or someone else.

But you can tell it's the 18th hole with the signature kind of white tent behind the 18th green. So that was my idea.

Q. And you worked off a videotape?

LUKE DONALD: Usually I work from photos, but it's very hard to find a photo of Stephen Ames hitting into 18 from behind; photographers are usually off to the side or in front of the golfer. So what I did was get some video footage from last year's Western Open, and I freeze framed it at the top of his backswing and took a picture myself of the TV. And that was good enough to get the idea of where his swing was and what I wanted to do with it.

Q. Looking at the British Open, how familiar are you with St. Andrews?

LUKE DONALD: That's probably the most familiar course of all the Open rotation courses. I've played there a number of times. I played it last year at the Dunhill Links. I've played it in 2000 when the Open was back there, and I've played a Palmer Cup there, I played St. Andrews Links Trophy there, so I've played it a lot more than any of the other British Open courses.

Q. You've had a lot of success this year. Do you feel you're ready to not only win a tournament but win a major, as well?

LUKE DONALD: I feel ready for sure. I think obviously I've had a good year this year, but I haven't gone over the edge by winning. I've had a 2nd and a 3rd, a couple of 3rds, I think, but I definitely feel ready. I think it's important for me to not press, push it too hard, but just to let it come to me. There's no reason why I'm not good enough, no reason why I'm not good enough to win a major.

Q. Has being back in the Chicago area this week made it more of a busy week for you or more hectic in any way?

LUKE DONALD: It is busier for me. Obviously I have a few more media obligations this week, and with the painting and everything, it's a little more hectic in that way. I also have a lot more fans. I've had to leave quite a few tickets this week at will call, stuff like that. But it's still a fun week for me. I enjoy playing this tournament a lot, and it's just nice to stay at home for a week.

Q. Can you talk we've got the Walker Cup coming to Chicago Golf this year. Can you talk about your memories of playing in that and what makes it such a special event?

LUKE DONALD: Well, it really is. It was the highlight of my amateur career, by far. I played two Walker Cups in '99 and 2001 at Sea Island, and they were both very memorable experiences for me. I have a lot of great memories from them. Obviously we won both of them, that helped. But it's something the memories I'll cherish for a long time, forever really, just something that will stay with me for a long time.

Q. What made it such a highlight for you, the camaraderie? What made it so special for you?

LUKE DONALD: I think just the I believe it to be the highlight of an amateur career to try and make a Walker Cup team. You know, a lot of amateur events are very individual, and to come together as a team and perform is just something different, just like the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup was an amazing experience, as well, just very different to any kind of individual stroke play event. You're sharing your memories and your experiences with nine or ten other guys instead of just yourself.

Q. Going back to the Open, would winning the Open be the ultimate experience for you, the ultimate goal?

LUKE DONALD: It would be, yeah. I think of all the majors, I'd love to win that the most, just because I am from Britain, born and raised, and would love to win an Open Championship. It would be the highlight of my career for sure.

Q. I've got another Walker Cup question. We've seen kind of starting around your time over the last few years a lot more players from overseas coming to play college golf in the United States, and kind of along the same time we've seen the British Walker Cup team win the last three, I believe. Is there a correlation to that, that the experience from playing U.S. golf, or is it sort of a chicken and egg thing, coming over here because they're getting better?

LUKE DONALD: I think there's a strong correlation. You could argue the similar things with the Ryder Cup. A lot of the Ryder Cup guys play in the U.S. a lot. They're more accustomed to the U.S. style golf courses, they're more accustomed to playing with the U.S. players, and they're no longer intimidated by them, and I think that's the same with the Walker Cup guys. They feel like they can hold their own in the U.S. college system, and they have every right to be as good as the U.S. guys.

Obviously I think we have a lot to thank the collegiate system for that because it's helped players from overseas a lot.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Luke Donald, good luck this week.


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