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September 14, 2011

Luke Donald


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Luke Donald into the interview room here at the BMW Championship, making his 10th start at the championship. You're coming into the week No. 4 in the FedExCup Playoffs and are a lock already for Atlanta next week. Talk a little bit about your preparations for the week and your goals.
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, excited to be back here again, obviously in a great position on the FedExCup. Came here last week and had a practice round, and obviously just played in the pro-am. Those were my preparations. Yeah, hopefully looking forward to a good week. Looking to try and win and go into Atlanta in the No. 1 spot.
JOHN BUSH: You live in this area, you're used to these chilly conditions throughout the year. Talk a little bit about what you're expecting this week.
LUKE DONALD: Well, yeah, the forecast does look a little bit on the colder side, something I think none of us have really got used to. It was nice here on Monday. It was 83, 84 degrees. The weather is just starting to change and turn into a little bit colder. But that will make the course play a little bit longer, but other than that, I don't think it's going to change too many things. I think it's looking like a dry forecast anyway.

Q. What is your take on how Cog Hill is this year compared to the past? Has it changed much?
LUKE DONALD: The course itself is the same. I don't think there's been any changes. The condition is much improved. It's a lot better than it was last year. Obviously they struggled with losing some of the grass on the greens because of the hot summer. This year it's in phenomenal shape, and the players certainly won't complain about the condition of the course.

Q. There's a story running around about you saying that Tiger's era is over from an express interview that you did. I'm just wondering if you could speak to that, if you believe that or if you said that or what your thoughts are.
LUKE DONALD: I don't recall ever saying Tiger era is over. I can't recall any of that to be honest, so I'm not sure where that is. I haven't read anything about that.

Q. It was a conversation where you were interviewed talking about obviously he's got a lot going on with getting divorced and having his knee and all those different things.
LUKE DONALD: I've certainly said in the past I think it's tough to come back from physical injuries. I've had some, and obviously being away from the game for so long, it's certainly not going to be easy for him to get back to where he was. I wouldn't doubt that Tiger will come back and win again. Whether he'll win as prolifically as he did a few years ago, I'm not sure. Whether the Tiger era is over, I don't know. Obviously there's a lot of great young players coming up and showing a lot of talent, but certainly I would never be naïve enough to write Tiger off. He has a tremendous amount of talent, and I'm sure when he starts playing a little bit more that that will start showing again.

Q. I take it that even though you're from this area you don't view this as sort of a hometown course for you. I think you have two top 10s in your times here. Is this a course that suits your game, and how do you like it in those terms?
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, my results here are a little bit mixed. I haven't played that great here. I don't think it's -- it doesn't set up that great for me. I've always said, if you're playing well, you can play any course well. And so in terms of that, I'm not really worried about past results.
But there are certain shots out there, certain carries, just the way you have to fit some of the shots into some of these tight pin locations, it makes it a little bit difficult. But I know if I'm playing well enough, I can compete and have a good chance.

Q. I guess it's mathematically possible that somebody could win the FedExCup without winning an event. What would your thought be if something like that were to happen? Do you think that's fair?
LUKE DONALD: Well, probably hope it doesn't happen. I think during the Playoffs and week in and week out the goal is to win. It's good to be consistent and have chances, but nothing is better than winning. You would have thought the champion should have at least won one of the playoff events.

Q. How hopeful are you that this event will stay in the Chicago area beyond this year?
LUKE DONALD: I am hopeful. Obviously I know it's going to be here next year or '14. I'm not sure what's happening in '13. I think they're looking at some sites in Chicago. But I think Chicago is a great sports city. Having lived here for a number of years, I would love to see an event here. I think the Western Golf Association does a great job with events, and obviously BMW has been a great sponsor, and I hope the event continues to be in Chicago. Obviously next year we'll have a Ryder Cup that will fill the void a little bit, but I think Chicago is one of the best cities in the U.S. I live here because of my enjoyment of the city, and I think it has a lot of great courses to offer, as well.

Q. One of those courses, of course, is Conway Farms, where you're a member. What are the pluses and minuses of taking this tournament or anything to Conway Farms, and how much would you like to see that happen?
LUKE DONALD: Well, I'd love to see it go there. I think Conway have been a great supporter of golf. They've hosted some great amateur events. There's the Mid-Amateur next week, they've had NCAAs, they've had some other big amateur tournaments, as well. It's a great golf club in terms of it's all walking, great membership, a lot of low single figure handicap players there. They love their golf.
And I think it's a great course, too. I think it's very capable of holding a BMW Championship, and I'd love to see it go there.

Q. I was just curious what your thoughts are about the golf course after the redesign. There's been obviously a lot of hand wringing and some criticism from even guys like Stricker, who usually watches what he says pretty carefully. Is it an overreaction? Is it as hard as they say? Is there something that we civilians aren't seeing out there that makes this course flawed? What's your spin?
LUKE DONALD: I have a few different thoughts. I mean, I think esthetically when I first saw it a few years ago I thought it looked visually a lot better in terms of when you're standing up on tees, just how the bunkers frame some of the holes. It does visually look a little better than it did before.
From an architectural standpoint, I'm not a huge fan of Rees Jones, either. I'm not a big fan of the deep bunkers and the ridges in the greens. There's a few holes where there isn't a great deal of strategy. Like 18, you don't really want to hit it in the bunkers, but they're both sides, and you can't really hit a 3-wood short of it because you're hitting a 4-iron into that green that's very slopey, so it forces you to kind of take on some of the tighter holes. But just from an architectural standpoint, I think there are a few flaws. But it's the same course, and it's in a lot better condition.
I guess the Jemseks have done a great deal to try and improve the course in an effort to try to get a U.S. Open here, and I feel bad that it's come under quite a lot of criticism.

Q. A couple weeks ago you and Jack Nicklaus hosted a charity event here in Chicago, which I believe went very well. I wonder if you could give us some insight into your relationship with Jack, the conversations that you had with him, two No. 1 golfers. Can you tell us a little bit about that relationship?
LUKE DONALD: Well, it's a relationship that's gone back quite a few years. I got to know Jack pretty well through joining the Bear's Club down in Jupiter, Florida, which is his home place down there. I obviously got to play with him in the first two rounds at the Open in the 2005 at St. Andrews and got to spend quite a bit of time with him during that time, as well.
Yeah, I see him quite a lot when I'm in Florida in the winter. I haven't picked his brain too much, but it's something I might do a little bit more going forward. Obviously I haven't won a major. He's won the most of anyone. So he's a good person to turn to. We talked a little bit a few weeks ago about what I could do to maybe enhance my chances, and I think hopefully in the off-season I'll pick his brains a little bit and see what he has to say.

Q. Your fellow top 5 guys in the FedExCup, most of them took a lot of time off the golf course in the last week's forced week off. I'm curious, what did you do in most of your time?
LUKE DONALD: Last week?

Q. Yeah.
LUKE DONALD: Came here Thursday, had a round of golf that I auctioned off on Friday and did some pretty concise, efficient practice Saturday, Sunday, Monday, a mixture of some playing and just some work on the range.

Q. I wondered, on the 12th hole, if you could just kind of describe that and what your approach is from the tee shot and then once you get on the green.
LUKE DONALD: Well, 12 and 14 are very similar. They're both 210- to 220-yard par-3s, both downhill, very sectioned-off greens, kind of have four corners where they'll put the pins.
My goal really will be try and hit mostly the middle of the green on both of those. If the greens get a little bit firmer with some of the cooler, sunny conditions that we're expected to have, I think middle of the greens, give yourself a good 20-, 25- foot putt for birdie and hopefully make one or two of those. That's kind of how I'll approach them. Most of the par-3s are very similar out here, and they deserve the same kind of strategy.

Q. I was curious what the rest of your year looks like once you get past the TOUR Championship. I'm going to assume you're going to take another monster break when you get to Christmas, but what do you have leading up?
LUKE DONALD: Actually I'm going to play Dunhill and Madrid straight after TOUR Championship, so this will be the start of four in a row. Then I'll take some time off. My wife is due the second week in November, and hopefully take six or seven weeks around that, and then I'll finish with probably Nedbank, Dubai and Australian Masters.

Q. And then not show up again until Riviera do you think?
LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I may go to one of them, one of the tournaments in the Middle East, but LA will probably be my first U.S. event.

Q. Why Dunhill? That's not one you've played before, is it?
LUKE DONALD: I've played it three or four times, yes. Again, I'm having a break around Diane's baby, during the second pregnancy, and I've only gotten events up, so I need to find a couple, and I wanted to get those kind of out of the way.

Q. Would you be in favor -- in regards to the Playoffs and not having won, if you could win the Playoffs, would you be in favor of either changing an event that would force the winner to have won the FedExCup or enforcing the rule so that you have to win in the Playoffs to win the FedExCup?
LUKE DONALD: Hard to do the first one. You could probably do the second suggestion there. But I don't know. Obviously there are different ways to look at it. I think winning is very important, but also the FedExCup is a year-long event, and it does reward some consistency throughout that. So I don't know.
But you don't want to get to the point where if someone has had a terrible year and then they win the FedExCup, I'm not sure if that's the right way to do it, either. It's hard to find the correct way.

Q. You touched on the Ryder Cup being here next year. Could you just talk a little bit about that event, what it's like to be part of it, and what you think it might be like at Medinah next year when that event is held?
LUKE DONALD: Well, there's nothing quite like a Ryder Cup. I think I always enjoy that team atmosphere, coming together with some of my teammates, coming together as a team representing your country. I've obviously been very fortunate to be on three winning teams, and that's added to my experience. But the pressure, the atmosphere, the kind of vibe that you get at a Ryder Cup, there's nothing really like it.
You know, I always enjoyed it. It's always a goal of mine to make the team, and hopefully I'll be on that team next year. It being in Chicago will add a little bit more to it for me. Obviously I'll have a little bit more support, not too much obviously being on the wrong team, but I'll get probably -- probably be able to miss some of the boos. It will be fun. It will be fun being just down the road from where I live.

Q. You haven't won on the PGA TOUR since February, and so a lot of people are a little -- when they see you No. 1 in the world it surprises folks a little bit, which obviously that's a testament to your consistency. But do you get sort of that reaction? And where would finishing No. 1 on the world sort of rank on your checklist of accomplishments?
LUKE DONALD: Well, you do get World Ranking points outside of America, too, and I have won two pretty big events after that. It's not like I've just won once. I have won three times. I've earned almost double the amount of points than anyone out there. You know, I've obviously had a great year, and that's why I'm at the top of the World Rankings.
JOHN BUSH: Luke, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.

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