Meet the late bloomer whose professional career keeps getting better. The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner is playing this week in the European Tour season finale in Dubai.
Ryder Cup success
A journeyman for most of his career, Donaldson earned a spot on the 2014 Ryder Cup team and scored the clinching point two months ago in Scotland when, in his singles match with Keegan Bradley, he knocked a wedge on to the 15th green to within inches of the hole to secure the cup. It was the confluence of a magical run that is showing few signs of ending. “Everything was in my favour to hit that shot where it went at the time, but to see it that close was obviously icing on the cake,” he said.
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Winless on the European Tour for the first 12 years after he turned pro in 2000, Donaldson has won a title in each of the past three seasons, including the 2013 crown at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, partly because he is better at picking his spots. “That’s the hardest thing, to get the schedule so perfect that you’re not tired and you’re prepared for every event,” he said.
That sounds easy in theory, but he will play a full-time schedule on the PGA Tour in 2015, splitting time on two tours. “I like playing all the [Florida] swing over there, so that’s pretty straightforward,” he said. “I’ll add a few more. Pebble Beach I think I’ll like because it gets windy, it’s by the ocean. I’ve always done well on those types of courses.”
Donaldson said his busy 2015 schedule will not preclude playing in the European Tour’s desert swing next year, including the 10th Abu Dhabi event. “I will probably play the desert events here, then head straight over [to the US] from there,” he said.
Ranked a career-best 24th in the world, Donaldson has joined the ranks of the elite at age 39, playing in World Golf Championships events and all the majors. Where to from here? “I just try and prepare and practise in a way to improve,” he said. “It takes so long to learn which tournaments to play and which not.”
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