Donald set to launch season at Riviera
World number three Luke Donald will launch his this year campaign at Riviera Country Club on Thursday, one of a handful of elite golfers who will start their seasons at the US PGA Tour Northern Trust Open.
It’ll be the third straight year that Donald has opened his season at Riviera, in the western Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades.
In 2011, he missed the cut, but he went on to claim the world number one ranking and become the first player to win the money titles in both Europe and the United States.
“It’s been a long year, the golf season, and it’s hard to find breaks and it’s hard to find time where you can actually work on your swing to try and make some improvements with your game,” Donald said.
“So I took a decent amount of time off, but I feel rested, feel ready to go. I’ve been working hard on the swing, and looking forward to starting again here this week,” said Donald, who last played at Dubai in November – when he finished equal third in the European Tour’s World Tour Championship.
Donald said he wasn’t worried that he’d allowed Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – both winners already this year -- to steal a march. Brandt Snedeker has jumped to fourth in the world rankings on the strength of runner-up finishes to Woods and Mickelson and his own victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last week, but Donald said it was pointless to allow that to create pressure.
“I’ve been around the tour long enough to know that it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. It’s about positioning yourself,” Donald said.
Donald will be paired in the first two rounds with Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Australian Adam Scott -- who have also enjoyed extended breaks.
McDowell hasn’t played since he won the World Challenge post-season tournament hosted by Tiger Woods in nearby Thousand Oaks, which ended on December 2.
Scott will tee it up for the first time since the Australian Open in December.
Scott has won at Riviera before, although his playoff win in a tournament limited to 36 holes because of rain didn’t count as an official win.
At least this week the southern California weather was expected to cooperate, with warm, sunny weather forecast through Sunday.