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Painful memories for Luke Donald at Torrey Pines

Britain’s Luke Donald, who was sidelined for five months last year with a wrist injury, has bittersweet feelings in the build-up to this week’s Buick Invitational.

Although the Englishman has always enjoyed playing at Torrey Pines where he twice finished a runner-up, it was at this venue where he suffered the injury eight months ago.

“I have had some good finishes here so that was a very disappointing moment in my career when I injured my wrist in the U.S. Open,” Donald, 31, told reporters on Tuesday.

“I have played well here and I guess, in a certain way, I feel like this course owes me something. We’ll have to see how I play this week. I’m looking forward to a successful week.”

Runner-up at Torrey Pines in 2004 and 2005, Donald was forced to withdraw from the final round of last year’s U.S. Open because of the injury.

He had surgery in August and was bitterly disappointed to subsequently miss out on the British Open, the U.S. PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

Donald returned to competitive golf in December at the Sun City Challenge in South Africa and has posted top-25 finishes in his first two starts on the 2009 PGA Tour.

“No problems with the wrist so far, touch wood,” said the Chicago-based professional, a double winner on the lucrative U.S. circuit who is known for his straight-hitting.

“It feels fine, 100 percent healthy. I’ve had a couple of solid tournaments, nothing spectacular, but some good, solid rounds to build on.”

In some ways, Donald believes he benefited from his five-month layoff last year.

“I felt like my swing was slipping into some places that I didn’t like in 2008 and it was causing a lot of inconsistency off the tee,” he said.

“I wasn’t hitting enough greens. I was really relying on my short game to score out there and that’s not really what I pride my game on.

“The injury gave me time to reflect upon what I needed to get my swing back to. I looked at a lot of videos with my coach and, when I was able to start hitting balls, I was able to start building my game up from the ground level.

“In that way I feel like my swing is a lot better than it was six months ago. I feel a lot more in control of the ball, and hopefully that will produce some results down the road.”

Donald is scheduled to tee off on the South Course with American Jeff Quinney and South Korean Charlie Wi in Thursday’s opening round at Torrey Pines.


February 4, 2009

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