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March 11, 2008

Luke Donald


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Luke Donald, thank you for joining us for a few minutes in the interview room. You're making your fourth start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, finished eighth last year, and two Top-10s so far this year, so off to a pretty good start. I know you'd like to get in the win column, though. Maybe some opening comments.
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, getting closer to the winning. But no, as you said, a good solid start and I feel very encouraged by my game and the results that I'm seeing. You know, every week I'm building confidence and feeling like I have a good chance to compete and have a chance to win.
So, I mean, working hard and it's nice to see many results.

Q. You didn't play last week, but what's the course look like? Any time they post a notice on the bulletin board that the greens are sketchy --
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I played the front side today. The greens are okay, the front side. They are obviously not as good as they have been. They are a little bit slower and a little bit softer. There's a few patches where you can see they have struggled. But on the whole, I think on the front side, we're okay.
The guys I was playing with played the back side, and they said the back side are a little bit worse. So I can't speak for that. I haven't played it yet, but that's what I heard.

Q. What are your plans playing your way into Augusta? What's your thought process? Do you play the week before or take the week off?
LUKE DONALD: I've tried different scenarios the last few years. I've played the week before. This year I'm taking two weeks off. I'm going to play Doral and have two weeks off and work a lot with my coach and hopefully go there nice and fresh and ready to play. It's been reasonably good to me, Augusta, the last few years, so I'll go there with some high hopes.

Q. There was this theory that only a dozen or so guys could win at Augusta because of the power involved. What are your thoughts on that, and I ask that in the context of Zach winning last year and frankly Mike Weir in 2003 after the first big changes. Is it a major is there truth to it?
LUKE DONALD: Well, I think Zach proved that it's somewhat of a myth. You don't have to hit the ball -- you don't have to be one of the longer hitters to be competitive around there. I certainly proved that even last year. I was only one or two shots off the lead after I made eagle on 8, and then I finished third in '05. I didn't really compete in '05, but I've had a good couple tournaments there where if a few things changed my way, I definitely would have been having a chance come the last few holes.
It definitely helps to hit it longer. Some of the changes, they have narrowed the course obviously. They are making it a little bit more accurate orientated. But you have to manage your game well around there. You have to be able to control your irons. You have to putt very well. And you know, obviously Zach had a tremendous short game last year and played the par 5s extremely well.
There's no question, and on most courses, it helps if you can hit it far, but you still have to have other parts of your game working.

Q. Let me throw out and you can dissect as you will. Would you have to play at your very top level to win, with compared, say, Vijay or Tiger or Phil could who could maybe not play at their peak and still get buy?
LUKE DONALD: I'm not sure with majors. I think with majors you have to play very well. I think Tiger may be the only one who has proved if it's game is a little off, he has such a good short game and he holes so many putts that he can make up for maybe a few errant drives or errant tee shots.
But I think everyone else in majors, with the fields becoming deeper and deeper, you have to be on top of your game, especially to win a major.

Q. Your first Masters was when?
LUKE DONALD: '05. I finished third.

Q. So all the attack part of Augusta is something you only know from television?
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I would have loved to have played Augusta pre, you know, 2002 or whenever it started to change significantly, no rough and no trees from what it was like when I was growing up watching it on TV.

Q. Just another question on this course. Does it seem with your game, you seem to play well at the ones that are the long, beefier, tougher courses; Torrey Pines come to mind and that doesn't seem like a good fit for you. There's been a couple others. Any explanation for that?
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I think a little bit to do with my attitude when the course is playing easy and when there are a lot of birdie chances out there. I seem to get a little bit more frustrated with myself if I don't get off to good starts and I start pressing a little bit too much. You know, I look at leaderboards too much, maybe seeing the guys are 7- , 8-under par after 13 holes and I'm thinking, well, I have to get going here and I start pressing a little bit.
I think on harder courses, I realize that you're going to make some mistakes, but you've got to stay patient and just kind of work your way around the golf course as best you can. That seems to be why I play a little bit better on tougher courses.

Q. Trying to figure out Tiger went from winning four in a row here to basically not being in contention the last fewer years. It seems to kind of coincide with Arnold growing the rough. You don't have the before, you've got the after, you've sort of been here the second phase. Is the rough here as difficult as it is anywhere along the way, or is it some of the deepest rough? Where would you put it in your experience?
LUKE DONALD: You definitely don't want to be in it. This year it's quite thick. The blades of the rough don't seem quite as thick as last year from what I remember. You have a little bit of a chance to get to the green, which might make it easier for the stronger players. But you know, it's definitely a lot easier course playing from the fairway.

Q. When was your first year here?
LUKE DONALD: Might be my first year -- I think 2002. You played maybe 2002 and 2003 and didn't do very well. I've kind of had a dislike for the course because I didn't play well, and had a few years off and I think came back -- maybe last year might be my first year, so this is my fourth time.

Q. So you did sort of see when I was winning and wasn't running. I can't think of any reason why it might be?

Q. I thought it might be when Luke got here.
LUKE DONALD: He's frightened of me, especially if I wear a red shirt on Sunday. (Laughter).

Q. You tried this once.
LUKE DONALD: Let's not go there again. (Laughter) Red's my favorite color, what can I say.

Q. Red pants and white shirt.
LUKE DONALD: Could be done.

Q. One thing that's unique about golf is how older players will write letters, notes of congratulations to younger players. Has that happened to you and who has written you notes and what have you done with them?
LUKE DONALD: Trying to think. I'm not sure if I've received many notes to be honest. Maybe I haven't won enough. But obviously you get a lot of congratulatory people, if you play well, a lot of people come up to you next week and say "well played" and "good playing." Whether it's young or old, it doesn't really matter. So I'm not sure if that question applies to me.

Q. Mostly text and e-mail?
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I get some texts, some e-mails. E-mails are more from not players, more from friends.

Q. How much of the written correspondence has changed today? Do you think that might be it, just the way the written aspect has changed the last six or seven years.
LUKE DONALD: It's very easy to e-mail, text. You know, I try my best to write as many thank you letters as I feel necessary obviously. But I think people still appreciate a nice written letter. It's something a little bit different. Obviously e-mail is a lot easier and works pretty well, but there's nothing quite like a written letter.

Q. What's your opinion about who is thinking more about The Ryder Cup right now, you or them, us or you, however you want to phrase it?
LUKE DONALD: I'm really not sure. I haven't played much in Europe, and the two events I played in the Middle East, there really wasn't much talk.
There might be more talk over here this year, I think just because of the results the past few years. Obviously Paul Azinger has done a few changes. He wants to change foursomes to start. His selection process is quite different.
The European Team has stayed very similar so we are obviously not going to change anything that's been working. So maybe there's been a bit more talk this side of the pond. I've obviously spent more time here.

Q. Mentioning talk, there's a perception that it's more on your minds than the U.S. players minds, but that might be a product of how much press it gets, how much questions get asked over in the British press. But I'm wondering if you guys are now in the same boat, you're just playing your schedule and kind of keeping one eye on the tables and waiting till July and kind of going from there.
LUKE DONALD: As I said, all I can do is go and play as well as I can, and, you know, hopefully that will take care of me being on the team. I'm obviously keeping an eye on it, as you said, and seeing where I am week-to-week or every time I'm playing. But it's really just a casual look just to see how I'm doing, how my possible teammates might be playing.
You know, and it's fun. Ryder Cup is a fun event, and there's nothing more fun for me -- I've been very fortunate to be on two winning teams, but those are pretty amazing experiences for me. It's definitely a goal of mine to be on that team again this year.

Q. You've spent the majority of your time in the U.S. here over the past few years with college and such. Do you think, is there a danger that if the U.S. keeps getting pummeled in that Ryder Cup, given the way we are such front-runners here and don't suffer losers well, that the event might fall out of favor if we don't start winning.
LUKE DONALD: I would certainly hope not. You know, the last two Ryder Cups obviously, heavily favored to the Europeans, and you guys got your fair share of wins back in the day. I think it's a little bit of a cycle thing. I'm sure the Americans will put up a great fight this year and be a very close contest.
But I would hope that that would never -- The Ryder Cup would never go away because of the reasons you stated.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Luke Donald, thank you.

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