Former world No.1 is out to prove that age is just a number when it comes to being a professional golfer at the top level
By Michael McEwan
Luke Donald has revealed how he believes his best years may still be ahead of him, despite a milestone birthday looming large at the end of the year.
The former world No.1 turns 40 on December 7 and, whilst he acknowledges that time is going against him, he reckons he still has an opportunity to enjoy even more success.
“There’s a definite fall-off period where your body isn’t able to do quite what you want it to do,” Donald told the latest edition of our sister publication bunkered. “I’m well aware that I’m certainly approaching that point. I’m not there just yet. I’ve managed to maintain pretty good physical shape and flexibility over the years. I’ve not really had too many injuries over the course of my career.
So, I’m in good enough shape and physically strong enough to compete for a few more years but, equally, there are a lot of young, up-and-coming players starting to emerge who can hit the ball miles. When you’re competing against them, you’ve just got to try to be a little bit smarter than they are and use all the experience you’ve gained.”
There are plenty of examples of players enjoying success after turning 40. Four of the last six Open champions - Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and HenrikStenson - have been in their forties, whilst Vijay Singh has won more titles since hitting the big ‘Four-Oh’ than he did before.
“You look at those guys and you feel encouraged, even inspired,” added Donald. “The thing about turning 40, it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s game over. Hopefully, I’m wiser and know more about the game than I did when I was younger and I’d like to think I can use that to my advantage for whatever years are ahead of me.
“You can be competitive into your forties, your fifties, even your sixties if you take care of yourself and stay injury-free. Look at Tom Watson, for example. He almost won an Open Championship at 59. That proves that the golf ball neither knows nor cares how old you are. It’s not like it gets easier the older you get but there’s no reason why you can’t be competitive.”
Meanwhile, Donald has also revealed that he is keen to expand his design business. His first course, Ba Na Hills in Vietnam, opened to great acclaim last year and the four-time Ryder Cup winner says that he would love to do more work in that particular field in years to come.
“I’m in talks with a guy called Dave Zinkand, who was the head shaper and worked under Coore& Crenshaw for 14 years and is now on his own and looking for some projects to work on,” he said.
“I’d love to get into that side of the business. I was an art major in college and so I think I have a good eye for that kind of creativity. I have that artistic mind and artistic view which I’d like to make more of.”
• For more from Luke Donald, pick up issue 157 of bunkered. For the latest golf news, log-on to bunkered.co.uk