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September 8, 2010

Luke Donald


JOHN BUSH: Luke Donald joins us here in the interview room at the BMW Championship, currently sits No. 5 in the FedExCup standings and he's making his ninth start at the BMW Championship. Luke, you missed your cut in your first start at this event, but you've had seven straight top 30 finishes and obviously Chicago is a special place for you. Just comment on being back.
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I think this is probably the tournament I've played the most on the PGA TOUR. I played here as an amateur at Northwestern and obviously have strong ties to Chicago, still make a home here, and enjoy being at this tournament. This is a great event, and obviously being part of the FedExCup now has even more significance now.
Yeah, glad to be coming in here with some good results behind me, and I'm looking forward to a strong week again hopefully.
JOHN BUSH: And if you stay in that top 5, a win in Atlanta would guarantee you the FedExCup. Talk a little bit about your goals for the week.
LUKE DONALD: Well, obviously that's a goal. After last week's performance I am in that top 5, and that's kind of the magic number. If you can get to the TOUR Championship still in that position, then obviously you have the FedExCup kind of in your hands, so to speak. You can control it with winning the tournament. That would be a goal is to obviously have a great week again, like every week, though, to come here and have a chance to win on Sunday and hopefully pick up the trophy.

Q. Does that change your strategy on Thursday? Do you play the first couple of rounds differently than you would considering there's so much more at stake and it all seems to tie together?
LUKE DONALD: No, I will just approach this just like any other tournament and playing holes the best way I think will create as many birdie opportunities for me. This week is no different to others. The only difference really is we have one less day to prepare because of last week. But other than that, it feels like just any other event in terms of how I prepare and how I approach the course.

Q. Will Cog Hill seem or will it be much different than the courses you've played the last two weeks?
LUKE DONALD: I don't think it will appear too differently. I mean, they have differences in them. Obviously Ridgewood is a classic kind of traditional golf course. It has that traditional feel. Last week at Deutsche Bank was kind of a newer course. This week is somewhere in between. It's an older course, but it's been renovated to look newer.
But they play very similar. I think a lot of the courses we play generally are quite similar.

Q. How cognizant will you be of your top 5 status on the back nine on Sunday? Will you get constant updates? How will that work?
LUKE DONALD: Again, I'll just be trying to play as well as I can, and if I have a chance to win, I'll be concentrated on winning the tournament. I certainly won't be looking at where I am on the FedExCup. I know if I play well, hopefully I can keep that position or improve on it.

Q. What's the biggest change in how you have to play this golf course since the renovations? And also, a part two here, what kind of feedback did you receive from friends, family, other players regarding your singing at Wrigley Field?
LUKE DONALD: Well, most people were congratulatory with the singing. The pitch didn't hit the dirt, so that got the thumbs up, too, even though it probably lacked a little bit of speed.
Going back to your first question, what was it, what do I have to do different with the changes?
There's a little bit more emphasis on short game here. I think with the deeper bunkers, you have to be very proficient when you miss greens around here now. The greens are elevated. Visually I think it looks a lot better. But tee to green, it's a little bit longer.
The par-3s are all very long irons today. I hit 3-iron on three of them and a rescue on the other one, so they're long par-3s with very sectioned off greens, so you have to be very precise into the greens. If the weather stays like this, they could continue to get firm, which will call for some high, soft shots into these greens, which is tough when you're hitting long irons. If you miss greens, you have to be very proficient around the greens.

Q. Maybe to continue with that, I actually want to ask you about two different holes, and one of them is the par-3 12th and the other one would be the par-5 15th. I wonder if you could take us from tee to green how you approach those when you step up to those.
LUKE DONALD: 12th is an elevated par-3. Again, very definite sectioned off areas where you pretty much can be certain where they'll put the pins, one in the front, one on the right, one in the back and one on the left over the bunkers. Some with the length of the shot are very tough to attack the pins. My approach will be kind of aiming towards the middle of the green and trying to take a 20-, 25-foot putt for birdie.
15 is a very visually -- architecturally well done well, I think. It sets up very well visually. It's a par-5 that's reachable for most of the guys, and I think a lot of the emphasis comes from a good tee shot. If you can get the tee shot away, you have a good chance at birdie.
Obviously the green has been changed over the last couple years. It's a lot more elevated now, which makes it a little bit harder to stop the ball on the green. But again, it's trying to get to that right section of the green to give yourself a good birdie chance, possibly an eagle chance.

Q. Can you talk about making the European Ryder Cup team?
LUKE DONALD: Obviously very excited to be a part of the team again. I was disappointed to miss it a few years ago, mostly through the wrist injury. Looking forward to going back there and hopefully helping my team out. I've been very fortunate to be on two winning teams, and hopefully I can make it a third.

Q. Will it be difficult to switch into the win-for-the-continent mode from what is now win for you?
LUKE DONALD: Sorry, can you say that again?

Q. Well, is it going to be difficult to switch into a mode where you're playing for a team, in this case you're winning for your continent, as opposed to winning for yourself, just doing what you can for you?
LUKE DONALD: It's never hard to get switched on for the Ryder Cup. That's a great, fun event with a lot of atmosphere, playing for your team, playing for your country. There's a lot of pride at stake and a lot of honor, and I've always enjoyed playing Ryder Cup, and that's an easy event to get up for.

Q. What's your sense on whether the European team process should be tweaked? Should that at least be considered, looking at the process?
LUKE DONALD: I don't want to touch on that too much. Obviously I did talk about it at the Barclays. I do believe that when you have a player that's ranked No. 8 in the world, Paul Casey, and Justin was top 20 maybe at that time, not make the team, maybe there's a question for looking at how we can do this better to make sure we have the strongest team.
There's a lot of players now that are playing around the world, and I think every great player wants to play against the best players, and I'm not sure if he should be penalized for that. But going forward, I think now we have our 12 guys. We've got to kind of concentrate on that. We have a great side anyway, and we'll be looking forward to playing a good match against the Americans.

Q. Stricker is No. 3 in the rankings, and he only needs to finish 65th this week to ensure himself of a top 5. You're two spots down and need to finish fourth or better. Do you feel like that's a reaction to his strong regular season, that disparity?
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, you know, there's a lot of talk about the FedExCup. It's very hard to get a truly correct system. You know, if you really want a playoff system that gives guys -- gives anyone a good chance of winning it, then I think they're pretty right on with the system they have. Someone from 120 can have a great week, win and go to 1st at the beginning of the FedExCup. And that's kind of a true playoff system, I suppose.
But some people would argue that there isn't enough relevance on how you played throughout the season. But it's a tough one to get totally right. You're never going to please everyone. So if -- I'm trying to work out what you said. So if Stricker finishes inside the top 65 he stays -- he's that many points ahead of me that he'd stay ahead, and I'd have to be in the top 4?

Q. Yeah, because he's won twice this year?
LUKE DONALD: How many points are there between us?

Q. 500-some.
LUKE DONALD: Well, I don't know. I'm not a mathematician. I'm just going to go out there and play as good as I can.
JOHN BUSH: We appreciate you stopping by. Play well this week.

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