Sunday June 10, 2012
Not quite the rock star
GLOBAL VIEW BY SEAN CASEY
HE’S the world’s top ranked player and has his own distinctive football-style chant but Luke Donald is no rock star.
By his own admission he lacks the swagger of a Rory McIlroy and, more importantly, a Major title to his name.
Until he develops the former and wins the latter, the Englishman will remain the golfing equivalent of snooker star Steve Davis.
Despite his wizardly ways on the green baize, Davis was viewed as a one-dimensional character to the extent that he was mockingly given “Interesting” as a middle name.
Donald has suffered similarly with one American writer coining the phrase “Luke Donald disease” to describe multi-millionaire underachievers, or in the words of the author: “wealthy complacent fat cats”.
Why the soft-spoken, unassuming and faultlessly polite Donald was singled out for such a characterisation it’s hard to tell but, wittingly or not, in the last couple of years he has thrown that particular jibe back in the writer’s face.
Becoming the first player to win the moneylist titles on both the US PGA Tour and the European Tour last season did wonders for his credibility if not his universal popularity.
As has topping the world rankings three times, most recently toppling McIlroy from the lofty perch with a dominant display in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Donald does not have the natural talent of McIlroy or the raw athletic power of Masters champion Bubba Watson but he possesses a work ethic second to none.
Practice, practice and more practice has got him to the summit of the game with hours of short-game repetition paying dividends in the red-hot atmosphere of tournament play.
Not the longest of hitters, Donald is however consistently accurate off the tee with one analyst coming up with the statistic that he is rarely more than 10 per cent off line.
With his game in good nick, it’s time for him to walk the walk of a world number one.
Donald has been working with England rugby union kicking coach Dave Alred at instilling more positivity in his body language.
“Dave is always on at me over my posture,” he said. “I need to get my shoulders back and my chest out a bit - have a bit more of a swagger.
“I think slumped shoulders with your head down isn’t a very imposing look. If you get your shoulders back and chin up a little bit... your playing partners think you’re not bothered by a bad shot or whatever.”
And there will be no better place to put that thinking into practice than at the 112th US Open, which tees off at The Olympic Club, San Francisco on Thursday (June 14).
With Donald’s win at Wentworth still fresh in the mind and world number two McIlroy the defending champion, the time is ripe for him to capture his first Major. And he knows it.
“Obviously winning one Major would satisfy some of my critics,” he said. “But personally the goal is to win more than one.
“I feel like I have that ability and hopefully that will happen. It’s about putting four rounds together like I did at Wentworth.”
For sure, a lot of the talk going into the US Open will surround McIlroy and the defense of his crown and whether or not Tiger Woods can add to his tally of 14 Majors.
But if Donald can puff out his chest, get on a roll and energise the galleries, the uplifting cries of ‘Lu ... ke, Lu ... ke, Lu ... ke’ could not only carry him to victory but drown out forever the grating voices of his detractors.