WENTWORTH, United Kingdom: Luke Donald hopes a return to the scene of two of his greatest triumphs this week will kick-start his season and a rise up the world rankings.
The former world No.1 is now rated the 60th best player in the world according to the official figures and is in danger of missing the US Open and the British Open.
Donald, at Wentworth for the European PGA Championship which starts on Thursday (Friday in Manila), has not won on the European or PGA Tours since his 2012 victory here.
That was the second of two wins in the European Tour flagship event—he also won in a play-off against Lee Westwood in 2011—but after being top of the world in 2012 he has plummeted down the rankings.
The Englishman needs to get into the world top 50 to qualify for July’s British Open at St Andrews and remain in the world top 60 to secure his spot in the US Open, which takes place in June at Chambers Bay.
And he is desperate for familiarity with this week’s course to breed content as he attempts to resurrect his career after tinkering with his swing.
“You always enjoy coming back to a place where you’ve had a lot of successes, and obviously some of my best successes on the golf course have been here,” Donald told reporters.
“2011 obviously was a playoff against Lee and then winning again in 2012, and having a pretty good chance to win last year, as well.
“So hopefully it’s a place that will spark me to get this season started a little bit. Obviously coming back to a place where you play well always helps.
“The last few weeks and month or so, I’ve got in some really good, focused practice. I feel like I’m on the right path again. You know, it’s obviously not been a great run for me the last year.
“It’s a little bit how golf is, it ebbs and flows, from going through a swing change and going back, it’s been a little bit tough at times.
“I feel like my focus is in the right position right now, what I’ve been working on, and you know, hopefully that will transpire into some good results.”
The current world number one and defending champion Rory McIlroy will tee it up on Thursday fresh from his seven-shot win at Quail Hollow on the PGA Tour on Sunday.
McIlroy decimated the opposition there but Wentworth is not the Irishman’s favourite course despite his win here last year.
Donald, 37, has more chance of eclipsing McIlroy on the less driver-dominated course here but concedes McIlroy is still the man to beat.
Donald added: “He obviously dominated the field there, dominated it off the tee. His results here, other than last year, haven’t been that great.
“So hopefully I have more of a chance on a course like this than I would like a course like last week. But when he’s playing well and firing all cylinders, he’s very, very tough to beat.”