An Interview With: LUKE DONALD
19 September 2006
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, Luke, welcome to The K Club. It's obviously an interesting morning there, the lone Scotsman and the three Englishmen, so tell us what did you collect today?
LUKE DONALD: Well, the English pair of Donald and Casey won today.
GORDON SIMPSON: You've collected a few things, haven't you?
LUKE DONALD: Well, Paul didn't really need the money (laughter). No, we had a good match, and we ended up winning a few Euros, but they got a little bit back on the last with some birdies.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you sense the buildup now beginning today, now with the public roaming around the course and just get the anticipation building?
LUKE DONALD: Absolutely. I think today it didn't feel quite as busy as I thought it might be. There were some crowds coming towards the middle of our round, but it wasn't quite as loud and noisy, and I'm sure it will be on Friday.
But definitely the buildup has started, and I'm glad to be here. Look forward to another couple of good days of practise. But looking forward to Friday, as well.
Q. Tom Lehman was saying his pairings for the first morning on Friday were pretty much settled, and he seemed to reveal that this morning with his pairings. How much can be revealed about you playing with Paul? You seem to have played well together in the past.
LUKE DONALD: Well, we haven't talked too much as a team with Woosie about pairings. I think he'll probably get to that tonight when we meet. But I think he told us today we were just going to go out there and have a look at the course and practise, so I'm not sure how much you can read into that.
Obviously I have played with Paul in the World Cup a few years ago and played very well, so I would love to play with Paul. He's obviously playing very nicely at the moment. His length can be on advantage on this course, certain parts, and our games seem to gel well together. Obviously that's up to Woosie a little bit, but I would have no problems playing with Paul out there.
Q. You may know more about the American rookies than most having played over in America more this season. Can you tell us a little bit what their attributes might be?
LUKE DONALD: Well, first of all, you can never underestimate the rookies. I think two years ago at Oakland Hills we had five obviously, and we were able to get a lot of positive results because of that. All of the rookies have won in the U.S that's right, isn't it?
Q. One hasn't. You mean this year?
LUKE DONALD: Well, Zach won last year. But they've all won. And to get in the U.S. team, it's a lot of Top 10s. You have to make Top 10s, and they're all very capable players. They have won and come down the stretch with good performances under pressure and performed well.
This will be a little bit different obviously, being away from home, but I'm sure I think it was easier two years ago. We got off to such a good start, we had the momentum going with us, that the rookies were able to get in there and have a good chance to feel a little bit more comfortable. If the Americans get off to a good start, I think the same will happen with their rookies.
Q. Just briefly going back to pairings, can you tell us two years ago how yours with Sergio, which was very successful, how that came about, and just talk a little bit about that.
LUKE DONALD: Well, I think Sergio asked to play with me, I believe, two years ago. We'd been pretty good friends before that and played quite a lot of practise rounds together and knew each other pretty well. I think in foursomes especially, that is somewhat important, to get along with who you're playing with and have a relationship, a rapport, and that's what happened between Sergio and I.
I think we obviously played well together. We won a couple of points, won both our matches. Again, I'd love to play with Sergio again this year. We're still good friends.
Q. Colin Montgomerie is the oldest player in either team. He's very closely identified with the Ryder Cup and has a wonderful record. Can you talk as a younger member of the team, describe his special role within the team?
LUKE DONALD: Well, obviously he's very good at getting points for Europe, and that brings a lot to the team in itself.
But during team rooms, and I think everyone really respects Colin as a player and as a person, and his record speaks for itself. I think he's earned that respect, and any time he does talk in the team room, we listen intently. We're very open to what he says.
Although Monty doesn't overly talk, just whenever he has a thought, he'll tell you what he thinks. Whatever he says seems to be good advice. I think without Monty on the team, it would be a different European team. He proved that two years ago when I played with him.
Q. Can I just ask you, everyone is talking about how you guys are favourites, having won the last two Ryder Cups. Does the team guy into this whole concept of the Americans being underdogs and you guys being the favourites, or do you set all that aside and focus on the task at hand?
LUKE DONALD: I think if we do buy into that, we're going to get into trouble. Obviously we have some advantages. We're playing at home, and we have done well in the last few Ryder Cups. But as soon as you start to underestimate the U.S. side, you get in trouble. Any team that has the one, two and three best players in the world on their team is going to be strong, no matter what.
It's always a close contest. I think the U.S. are more determined than ever this year to come back and prove that they are a force to be reckoned with; that they want this Ryder Cup and they want to win it just as badly as we do.
As soon as we start getting complacent and thinking that we're favoured and we're favourites to win, it's going to be trouble for us. I think we've got to go out and keep doing what we've been doing the last few years, and that's have fun out there, come together as a team and just play golf and not think about past results or expectations but just play golf and try and get to 14 1/2 points as quickly as we can.
Q. I did a Google search recently of the Nationwide Tour, and "second best" and came up with about six different players saying that the Nationwide Tour is the second best Tour in golf, and you hear it quite a bit as much as you play on our side there. What goes through your mind when you hear that?
LUKE DONALD: Again, it's hard for me to really give you an accurate answer. I've never played one single Nationwide Tour event. I have rarely played against Nationwide Tour players.
But from a European standpoint, it's disappointing to hear that because of our results in the Ryder Cup the last few years.
Obviously we've dominated, really, in the last five Ryder Cups; we've won four out of the last five. To say that the Nationwide is stronger than The European Tour, I'm not sure who's saying it, I'm not sure whether these guys have played in Europe or not, but again, it's hard for me to say because I have not played in the Nationwide Tour. I never have played one single event. I don't know how the courses are set up, I don't know what the players are like. I'm sure they're pretty strong.
You know, some of the guys that come off the Nationwide Tour like Zach Johnson and now he's playing in the Ryder Cup. There's definitely strong players.
Q. Nine of the 12 on this team.
LUKE DONALD: Nine of the 12, there you go.
Q. Tiger didn't make it there, by the way.
LUKE DONALD: Like me. It's hard to say. I would have to argue that The European Tour is stronger than Nationwide, but that's just my view.
Q. In what way is the Luke Donald of 2006 different to the Luke Donald of 2004?
LUKE DONALD: One, I've experienced a Ryder Cup. I feel like I'll be better prepared come that first tee shot. To have known what the pressure is like, to have experienced the atmosphere and the crowds and all that goes along with that, I've been there once before. So I feel like I'm going to be able to cope with that a little bit better.
I also feel like I'm a better player. The last two years I've consistently felt like I've gotten better and better. I've performed better at the bigger events, and that's all good for me. I feel like I'm going to be able to, in the long run, cope with these situations better and better. I definitely feel a better player than I did two years ago.
GORDON SIMPSON: Luke, thank you very much.
Sunday Video Recap
Check out all the great highlights from Sunday's European victory. Watch
- 1969: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the final day.