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A Quick 9: Luke Donald

Titleist Pro V1x golf ball player Luke Donald returns to the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines this week with fond memories of last year's tournament. He was the model of consistency all week, shooting three rounds in the 60's to finish in a tie for second place. We caught up with Luke recently for a Quick 9...

1.  Your PGA TOUR season gets underway at Torrey Pines this week.  With the length and grind of the Tour season, how do you stay motivated week in and week out?
A.  For me, it's about setting goals and then achieving those goals.  Without goals, I've got nothing to shoot for.  Two of my goals are always to win and to finish in the Top 10 in the world rankings.  I work hard to achieve those goals and I'm not quite there yet, but even in the offseason, I'm working hard to get there and that keeps me going.

2.  What do you do to remain consistent as a player at the highest level of the game?
A.  I think you have to have dedication and you have to work hard at it.  You can't slack off for one minute.  There are 150-200 guys out there who are good enough to win every week on Tour.  In order to try and be at the top and have that edge, you have to try to outwork them.  For me, that's making sure I'm up early, working out, practicing hard and trying to reach those goals I mentioned.

3.  You mentioned getting up early and working out.  How important is fitness and working out to staying competitive on the PGA TOUR?
A.  It differs from person to person.  I enjoy working out.  For me, it's a long year, playing 30 or so events per year, and it's get tiring.  I need to be physically strong, but I also work out to keep my mental side active as well.  It gets my energy level up, gets me ready for the tournament, and I'm able to feel good about myself too.  It differs from person to person.  Some guys work out everyday, and some don't work out at all.  I like to work out maybe three times a week.  For me, though, it's especially important for my energy level.

4.  What's your pre-round workout like when you're playing in a tournament?
  It's always very similar.  I get to the course a couple of hours before my tee time and make sure I eat something.  I'll stretch and warm-up for maybe 30 minutes to make sure I'm nice and limber when I get to the range.  Then I spend about 50 minutes at the range hitting some balls and then finish up with about 15 minutes on the putting green before I head to the first tee.

5.  How important is hydration and nutrition when you are on the course?
A.  I think it's a lot more important than most people think.  I try to drink between 2-4 bottles of water per round and I try to eat something every six holes.  I just try to keep my body in the right stead so I have the energy to play consistently out there. We're out there 4-5 hours, sometimes even longer, and that's a long time to go without any food or water.

6.  You play in many pro-am's throughout the year.  What's the number one swing fault you see in amateurs and what advice would you give to correct it?
A.  The number one swing fault that I see in amateurs is they try to lift the ball in the air instead of letting the club do the work.  They try to manipulate the club and the swing through impact, trying to lift it, instead of hitting down on the ball which makes the ball go higher.  When you try to lift it, you just end up topping it. Correcting this fault is really about set up, making sure you have tilt in your swing. A good tilt keeps your weight behind the ball, and from there you have to move your weight forward which will produce better results.  
7.  Is there one swing or fitness tip that you've received that's stuck with you throughout your career?
  It's actually something I still struggle with - trying to synchronize my upper body with my lower body.  Sometimes my lower body gets too fast but when I can get them both working together, that's when I'm my most consistent.

8.  How important is it to have confidence in your golf ball?
A.  The golf ball has changed so dramatically in the last 20 or so years and there's a lot of competition out there.  You definitely want to play the best product available. I've been playing the Titleist golf ball for the past two years and I've really enjoyed using it.  It's the #1 played golf ball out on Tour and that's for a reason - because it performs great.

9.  What do you typically carry in your pocket during a tournament round?
A.  A few tees, a pencil, a pitchfork (pivot tool).  I'm very particular about my pitchforks.  I like the wide ones you can fit your thumb on, do you know what I mean? Oh, and a coin.  I've been using the European Team Ryder Cup marker, actually. Just 'cause it has such great memories.

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