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April 9, 2013

Luke Donald


THE MODERATOR:テつ Good morning, it's a pleasure to welcome Luke Donald with us today.テつ This is Luke's ninth Masters appearance.テつ He's had three Top‑10 finishes, 2005, 2007 and 2011, currently ranked No. 4 in the world.テつ He posted a Top‑5 finish in Tampa a few weeks ago, and he has five PGA TOUR victories.
I'd ask Luke, before we question him, if he would like to give us some thoughts and comments about preparation for this year's Masters?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Yeah, thank you, just always a pleasure to be back here.テつ I think as players, we all get excited for this week.テつ First major of the year, there's been just enough buildup in the golf world for the last few months, but this is kind of like when we feel the season starts.
I've had a good couple days practicing.テつ Came here Friday, Saturday, and worked on the course quite a bit and looking forward to playing the next couple days.テつ But excited about this week and my preparation, I feel like has gone pretty well, and I'm excited for hopefully a good week.

Q.テつ Did you feel you found something in your game at Tampa, and what else have you been doing in the three‑week or almost four‑week stretch since then?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Well, in Tampa, I played very well, tee‑to‑green, I played easily well enough to win.テつ What's held me back a little bit this year has been the ability to get the ball in the hole on the greens.テつ I've been working hard on that the last couple weeks working on speed, little adjustments in setup, but I think that's a big focus for this week.
If I can get the ball rolling into the hole and see the ball going in a little bit more, then that's usually a good indication I'm going to have a good week.テつ So just working hard on a few little things in my setup and my putting, and just working hard on speed control.

Q.テつ Luke, European players used to have a great record, late '80s, early '90s at Augusta, and we have not had a European winner since Josテδゥ Maria in '99; does that firstly surprise you, and secondly, what are the chances of ending that streak this week?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Does it surprise me?テつ Yeah, nothing surprises me in golf anymore.テつ I think since I've been a professional, I feel like the fields have gotten a lot stronger, a lot deeper.テつ You're seeing anyone on a given week has a chance to win.
This game is a very mental game, and it's almost who is the less fragile players that week that have a chance.テつ Everyone has the talent and the ability to win, and you know, obviously there's a bunch of great and good European players right now, Justin and Poults and Rory and Graeme, and the list goes on and on.テつ But we certainly have as good a chance this year as any other.

Q.テつ And sorry, your own personal chances, how would you rate them?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Again, I think it's going to come down to seeing the ball go in, getting the putter rolling.テつ I've been working hard on it, and I know I have good fundamentals, good technique.テつ It's just about seeing a few go in and build that confidence.テつ Yeah, I feel pretty good about my overall game.

Q.テつ It just seems to have been a very low‑key buildup for you and quite a big break, which seems a departure from the norm; deliberate, and what was the thinking for it?
LUKE DONALD:テつ In terms of the break, I've only had two weeks off since coming back from Malaysia.テつ I've come into this week having had three weeks off before, as well.テつ So I'm not sure my buildup has been too different.
Obviously I've had to think a lot about my schedule, playing both tours and obviously have the middle of the year be very busy.テつ I didn't want to play too much at the beginning of the year and I wanted to spend some time working on some stuff.
Yeah, my results haven't been what I wanted, but someone who had such a great 2011, pretty good 2012, I know the ability is there.テつ It's just being patient, waiting for my turn to come.テつ It's frustrating sometimes, but you know, I think when you have that background of good results in the past, that you know that good things are going to happen.テつ You just keep working hard and playing through some of those tough times, and it will turn around.

Q.テつ Being No. 4 now compared to being No. 1 earlier, how have maybe the pressures changed or the demands on your time?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Yeah, certainly a lot less demand, a lot more going under the radar.テつ Less expectation.テつ Probably less expectation for myself, and I think that can only be a good thing.テつ You know, it's one less thing to think about.

Q.テつ The last three years, you've been known for getting the ball in the hole; what do you think changed?テつ What led to this sort of shortfall this season?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Hard to tell.テつ Again, it's not something I'm too worried about right now.テつ You know, technically, I think I'm doing the right things.テつ Again, this game, that happens.テつ You have up and downs sometimes.テつ I haven't had too many downs in my career, especially over the last few years, and that's unusual.テつ So I think it's just a little bit more of getting that mental vibe, seeing the ball going in and building confidence from that.
I certainly feel the work I've done in the last few weeks should help me this week.テつ I think I'm excited about seeing some better results.

Q.テつ I know the majors have been a source of frustration for you in recent years results‑wise; are you trying something different this year?
LUKE DONALD:テつ The only difference is‑‑ not really too many differences.テつ I just plan to go to each site, perhaps not the PGA, but the other three majors before, the week before, and spend two or three days learning the courses.テつ This one's a little different.テつ I think this place is a little bit easier in terms of preparation because we always come back here and we know what to expect.テつ The course doesn't change too much.
But when you go to a Muirfield or a Merion that I've never played, then I think going and actually playing the course and getting a feel for it is important; not just that week, but the week before, and getting some feel for that.テつ So that will be the only thing that I'll be concentrating on this year.

Q.テつ How many practice rounds would you have at Merion and Muirfield?
LUKE DONALD:テつ I would say at least two or three the week before, and then you know, one or two leading up to the tournament.

Q.テつ Is there a specific aspect of your game that you concentrate on hardest in terms of practice to get ready for the Masters?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Short game mostly.テつ Technique around the greens and speed control.テつ I think that's the biggest thing around here for me to be successful.テつ I think the grass around this green is quite sticky; it's shortish but it's still tricky to chip off and you need very good technique to be able to do that to be able to create the right strike and the right contact.テつ You get so many different shots where you're not quite sure which club to hit around these greens, and obviously familiarity and technique helps.テつ And obviously knowing the greens and learning the speed and seeing the ball just drop in.テつ I'm not a putter that likes to hit the ball hard and I think having fast greens probably is a benefit for me because of that.

Q.テつ Are you the type who will be seeking advice from guys who have won majors, won a lot of majors in terms of when to get here, all those sort of logistical questions you're trying to work out?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Well, over the years, I've sought a lot of advice.テつ I've talked to Jack Nicklaus.テつ I've sat down with Nick Faldo.テつ I think it's about picking parts of what they say and trying to find out what works for you.
I don't think everyone's system is just because it works for them is perfect for you, but certainly there were definitely parts that I listened to and pick out and try to learn from.テつ I think certainly I've gained some good knowledge from doing that, and I'll continue to do that as I go forward.

Q.テつ When you step on to the tee on Thursday, do you have lots of nerves?テつ Do you have butterflies in your stomach or are you so happy being here now that it doesn't worry you?
LUKE DONALD:テつ I think you always have those nerves, you always have those butterflies no matter what tournament.テつ This one obviously being the first major is a little bit heightened.
But every Thursday when I step on the tee, the first tee, there's always some nerves.テつ There's always some expectation of the unknown about what's going to happen.テつ And I think that's fun.テつ This week it will be higher than most.テつ The Ryder Cup is probably the most, the majors are just below that, and the regular tournaments are a little bit less.
Yeah, it's a fun feeling and one‑‑ I think it's no mistake that the first hole seems pretty innocuous, but it seems to play one of the toughest, and it's just a little bit partly to do with those first tee nerves.

Q.テつ Have you noticed any changes out there this year?テつ 14th green?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Yeah, 14th is really the only change.テつ It's reasonably subtle.テつ I think they have softened the green just a little bit.テつ They have given some opportunity for a few more pin locations.テつ The back of the green is raised up a little bit which will collect the ball and bring it back to some of the pin locations which will make it exciting for the fans and people watching on TV.
But other than that, the course is in tremendous shape.テつ It seems to get better every year.テつ I think they had a reasonably warm spring and got some good growth, and it's in as good of shape as I've seen.テつ Even coming here Friday, Saturday, sometimes the greens have slowed down a little bit the week before, but they seem very fast and it was good practice because of that.

Q.テつ Our Tottenham team, are we going to see that annual late season collapse?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Yeah, hopefully Mr.Bale will be back in a couple weeks and we can start winning again.テつ Just want to stay ahead of Arsenal, that's all.

Q.テつ What's it like playing Thursday and Friday?テつ How many people were on the course?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Friday, Saturday.テつ I was meant to come Thursday, but looked at the forecast and it's 45 degrees and 100 percent chance of rain.テつ I think you were out here, weren't you, and it's not too nice.テつ I decided to stay one more day in Florida and get a good day of practice.
It's still that special feeling.テつ There's nothing like walking out the back of the clubhouse and just seeing the expanse of greenery, which you don't usually see tournament week because it's just filled with people.テつ And just seeing‑‑ having the course pretty much to yourself, only 20, 30 people out here playing.テつ Obviously I can get some good work done without slowing everyone up, which is nice, too.テつ But yeah, it's a special place and very fortunate to be able to be given the opportunity to come out here the week before.

Q.テつ Was Pat Goss with you?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Yeah, he came Friday, Saturday, and we did some good work together.

Q.テつ And this week who is on your team?テつ Are Diane and the kids both here?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Yeah, the whole family is here and my caddie, John.テつ That's about it.

Q.テつ When you started coming here, we all thought this would be probably your best chance at a major, and I felt that way, too; do you still feel that way?
LUKE DONALD:テつ I think so.テつ A couple different reasons.テつ One, I'm very much a golfer that likes to prepare and work on specifics for specific courses.テつ I think we are able to do that at this major.テつ The others, it's tougher to do because we're just not as familiar with it.テつ And again, I think short game, I do believe that short game is still very important around this place, having that ability and that technique to be able to deal with those shots around the greens and having the feel and touch to see the breaks.
It's not just about reading these greens; it's kind of a feel thing.テつ I feel like generally I'm pretty good at that.テつ My results have definitely shown that.テつ I've had a couple chances around this place, and hopefully will continue to give myself some good looks to winning a green jacket.

Q.テつ Based on your experience here, do you have a strategy when you go out that this is a part of the course that you will defend and a part that you will attack, or do you just wait to see how it unfolds?
LUKE DONALD:テつ Yeah, it really depends on pin locations around here.テつ I don't think specific holes are ones that you can attack.テつ I think specific pin locations you can attack, which is a little bit different than most courses.
So even the easy holes can get you here, though, too, so you have to be very careful.テつ Certainly you have a strategy for most holes.テつ The first you're just trying to hit the middle of the green and not at the pin and it goes on and on for 18 holes and that's what makes this course special.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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