VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Former world number one Luke Donald has been in the golfing doldrums for the last three years but is hoping a return to the scene of past glories this week can kickstart a turnaround in fortunes.
The Chicago-based Englishman is without a victory in Europe or the United States since 2012 and has slumped to 60th in the rankings, a position that puts his place in the sport’s leading tournaments in jeopardy.
“You always enjoy coming back to a place where you’ve had a lot of successes and some of my best successes have been here,” Donald told a news conference at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Tuesday.
“Hopefully, it’s a place that will spark me to kind of get this season started a little bit.”
Donald won the European Tour’s flagship event in 2011 and 2012 and came close last year, finishing tied third behind winner Rory McIlroy.
World number one McIlroy has won three times this season and was in outstanding form when he romped to a seven-stroke victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina on Sunday.
The Northern Irishman is renowned for his long, booming drives while Donald’s strengths lie in his ability to plot his way around courses and he said his game was perfectly suited to Wentworth.
“Even though it is a course that has some length at 7,300 yards... some holes take the driver out of your hands,” explained Donald who spent 56 weeks at the top of the rankings between 2011 and 2012.
“It squeezes in at certain holes... so it’s a positioning course. His (McIlroy‘s) results here, other than last year, haven’t been that great so hopefully I have more of a chance on a course like this.”
Donald, 37, has undergone swing changes in the last couple of years and says the could tide could turn for him at any time.
”The last few weeks and past month or so I’ve gotten in some really good practice,“ he added. ”I feel like I‘m on the right path again.
”It’s obviously not been a great run for me. That’s a little bit how golf is, ebbs and flows from going through a swing change and going back.
“I feel like my focus is in the right position right now ... and hopefully that will transpire into some good results.”
The PGA Championship starts on Thursday.
Editing by Ed Osmond