GULLANE, Scotland (Reuters) - Former world number one Luke Donald has predicted a great British Open championship this week on a rock-hard Muirfield layout that will favour the more experienced performers.
The 35-year-old Englishman, still craving his first major victory, is taking inspiration from the breakthrough wins by Adam Scott at the U.S. Masters in April and Justin Rose at last month’s U.S. Open.
“Most of the time when we play tournaments it’s one club to a certain yardage and you’re trying to stick it to that point,” Donald told reporters on the eve of the 142nd British Open.
”Here it takes a little bit more imagination but also more control. When the course is this firm, I think firmness is as good a protector as anything.
“We don’t see it very often and it demands a lot of thought, a lot more conscious decisions about where you want to land the ball and how much it’s going to roll. In that regard I think it’s going to be a great championship.”
Donald said the ball would frequently run away from the golfers on the par-71 links layout so undulating that it often appears to look like a burial ground for elephants.
”I think it’s fun to be on the edge of the green five yards away and you can putt it, you can hit an eight-iron or you can hit a lob wedge,“ he explained. ”There are so many different options.
”We don’t as professionals get that opportunity very often. We play in a lot of thick rough and lush green grass all the time where the ball tends to hold.
“This week the ball is getting away from us. We are very good at hitting to a specific spot and a number but controlling how much it releases is different and more of a challenge,” said Donald.
“It’s going to suit the players that have experience, that know-how to play links, that are in control of their game and obviously the top players maybe have a little bit of an advantage.”
Australian Scott, 32, and fellow Englishman Rose, 32, are from the same generation as Donald and he sees no reason why he cannot jump on the same major-winning bandwagon.
“It’s an inspiration in terms of looking at Justin, looking at Adam,” said the world number nine.
”They have had similar career paths, up until they won a major, to myself, having won a World Golf Championship and some big tournaments around the world but not having quite broken through.
”I feel like, hopefully, my turn’s coming. We’ve been on a similar path up until this year and obviously they have stepped up a gear.
“I would love to follow in their footsteps,” Donald added.
Editing by Ed Osmond