My Diary: 'New Bettinardi putter could be crucial'

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Luke Donald
Thu, 7 Jun 2007
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Oakmont Country Club - scene of next week's US Open

My preparations for the US Open at Oakmont next week are going well, especially after switching to a slightly different Bettinardi putter and making a tiny adjustment to my alignment. Both could be crucial.

I have my brother Christian, my caddie on Tour, to thank partly because in the final round of the BMW PGA at Wentworth when we came to the par-5 12th hole he mentioned that I'd two-putted the previous 11 greens and perhaps I should try something different.

The head on the putter is very similar to my old one (Bettinardi C-03) but the neck (hosel) is slightly changed. My old model had an offset neck (the shaft sits slightly in front of the putter face), while this one is a bit more straight into the head of the club. Any time you have a putter offset there can be a tendency to pull the ball slightly. At the 12th on the West course, I decided to do something different and holed a long one - about a 60-footer!

Now I’m very happy with this new putter, I just feel I can line the ball up a little bit better, especially from 15ft in.


'I'll be getting in some putting practice at Oakmont with my caddie brother Christian, this week'

Apart from the putter I haven’t really been experimenting too much with my equipment, no tinkering with the 'old' MP-32 irons - they're working well. However, I do have to replace my Mizuno MP Series wedges (54 and 60-degree) at some stage - the grooves get worn with all the practice we do on Tour - but I'm reluctant to change yet as they’ve been treating me well, too.

To win at Oakmont couldn't be a better wedding present. My fiancee Diane and I are getting married on June 24, the weekend after the US Open in Santorini in Greece, where Diane’s family come from. All my family from the UK will be coming and I've invited a few players, too, including Sergio Garcia who says he's going to make the trip. I’m going to have dual best-men, my brothers Christian and Andrew.

I'm using this week (after finishing 35th in the Memorial last week with four steady rounds) to get to learn the Oakmont course. I’ve played it once, maybe five years ago and I just remember the greens being ridiculously slopey. I'm told they have taken nearly all the trees out so it resembles more of a heathland course, with deep rough and narrow fairways. It should suit me.

And after finishing 10th in the US Masters -I know it could have been better - I definitely expect a lot out of my game at Oakmont. When Thursday comes around it’s important for me not to think about scores or results but to relax and play golf.

I’m getting plenty of experience in majors - like sharing the lead and playing with Tiger Woods in the last round the US PGA Championship last year. You learn a little bit about yourself and how you cope under that pressure.

Playing with Tiger and losing by six shots, I've tried to figure out what I did wrong and how to do better next time. For instance, under pressure I might tense up a little bit on the greens and not get the stroke as fluid as it usually is. Tiger’s unbelievable around the greens and I remember I was a little bit unlucky over the first six holes.

Of course there will be scrutiny on the Europeans playing at Oakmont. Justin [Rose] will come under plenty after what he did in the Masters (5th) and at the BMW (lost a play-off). But being talked about is a good thing. It means you’re playing well and you’ve got a chance to win. You’re under the media attention and they expect a lot from you but when it comes to hitting the first shot on Thursday I've got to put all that aside.

One of the best at it was Nick Faldo in his prime. When I was at Wentworth I was asked to recall my amateur days and we got on to the subject of equipment. I'd used Mizuno irons as an amateur after watching Faldo (one of my idols) who was the main player on Tour for Mizuno in those days. I admired him because he really plotted his way around the golf course with precise shotmaking. I've built my game in a similar way. It's probably why the Mizuno irons suited us both.

My next trip to Europe will come after my honeymoon when I play the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and then to The Open at Carnoustie, where my results reveal that I missed the cut there as an amateur last time I played in 1999 - by just two shots with rounds of 80 and 76.

 

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