Bad weather gives Donald a Match Play boost
MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - Possible snow showers forecast for Wednesday's first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship could be a good omen for Luke Donald, who says he would embrace such conditions in Arizona's high desert.
Two years ago, Donald won the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event with a 3&2 victory over Germany's Martin Kaymer in the final after the day had dawned with almost an inch of snow blanketing Dove Mountain.
The Englishman went on to enjoy the most successful year of his career, winning four times worldwide and becoming the first player to clinch the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic after spending much of 2011 as world number one.
"Obviously I have very fond memories from a couple of years ago," Donald told reporters at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Tuesday. "That was kind of a springboard for what was my best year out on tour.
"Winning here gave me a huge amount of confidence. I went on to become No. 1 in the world and won a bunch of tournaments, and a lot of that was the result of winning here against a great field."
Donald, whose world ranking has slipped to third, has been drawn to play Germany's Marcel Siem in the opening round and he smiled when told that chilly conditions, with a chance of snow showers, had been forecast for Wednesday.
"If it snows, I think we'll be in the clubhouse," the 35-year-old grinned. "When bad weather is expected, the thing that gives me a gleam in my eyes is when I hear people worrying about it, complaining about it.
"As a player, the best approach is to try and embrace it, just know that it's going to be tough, work your way through it. It's going to be the same for my opponent. Just keep smiling through that tough weather.
"It's not going to be easy. This is a very long golf course and it's going to make it extremely long. But you've just got to go out there, embrace the conditions and not let it affect your attitude."
Donald, regarded by many of his peers to have the sharpest short game around, never trailed in any of his six matches on the way to his success at the 2011 Match Play Championship.
Though he was upset by South African Ernie Els 5&4 in the opening round last year, the Englishman knows he can beat anyone in the world in the one-on-one format if the rest of his game clicks.
"The last few years I would say my short game has been the strongest part of my game," the five-times PGA Tour champion said. "Anything inside 100 yards. I've statistically been one of the best in the world at that.
"I think that's been a huge part of my success and when I can put my long game together with that short game, that's when I become dangerous."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)