Luke Donald's Diary

How I'm preparing for Augusta

Luke Donald
Fri, 4 Apr 2008

Luke Donald's Diary


Luke with caddie brother Christian at Doral

When the legendary Ben Hogan prepared for the US Masters at Augusta National, he always tuned up at the exclusive Seminole course in Florida. That's where I'm heading tomorrow (Saturday, April 5).

The course is very similar to Augusta with slick greens and that's just the kind of preparation I need for my short game.

I've been working very hard at my home in Florida and with a little help from my friends at the Bears Club and MacArthur, just down the road, they've set up the greens so they're lightning fast. It all helps me get into the Masters mindset.

At the beginning of the year I decided I was going to take two weeks off before Augusta so I could get a good amount of practice in and I'm continuing to work hard on my fundamentals in my full swing. I'm working on getting the club steeper and more in line at the top and making sure the club is coming down on the same path that it's going up.

I've been doing a lot on my short game, creating shots that I think I'll need for Augusta. This will be my fourth time there and after two top ten finishes I'm learning about the course more and more. Ultimately good shots and a good short game will see me play well at Augusta.

There have been subtle little changes to the course, which strangely has been slightly shortened. Now there's a novelty!

They have extended the first tee to allow for some forward tees in case the shot's into the wind. They’ve also deepened the seventh green by a few feet - in the past you could almost spin it off the front into one of those cavernous bunkers - and softened the green on No.9 and created a couple more pin options.

Sadly it comes 12 months too late. A softer green would have helped me last year when I made seven there!

I've always felt quite comfortable at Augusta, and my previous performances show that the course rewards great iron play, making sure you leave yourself in the right spots for good birdie opportunities.

Though my parents will be home in England watching on TV, Diane is bringing her mother and sister to support me, so we'll be quite a little gathering, along with my caddie brother Christian and my coach Pat .

The second and third places I’ve had so far this season have helped build my confidence so I’m raring to go. But I still feel there's room for improvement. This year is all about getting better every week, and I hope to do that at the Masters.

My stats have been better this year, which obviously contributed to my good results in LA and at the Honda. Some of my swing changes are harder with the longer clubs in the bag, which is why I've been less accurate with my driving, though I'm still very happy with the Mizuno MP600. I've now changed the shaft to a Fujikura Rombax, to bring the flight down a bit. The driver feels very solid; I just need to swing it a little bit better.

One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to make the Ryder Cup team and I know if I keep playing the way I am, it will take care of itself, even though I'm not high enough in either qualifying list at present.

Obviously playing well in the majors is a great way to jump up the rankings and I hope to start that process next week. Wish me luck.

 

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