November 21, 2014 / 11:48 AM / 3 years ago

Donald's swagger returns in Dubai birdie splurge

Luke Donald of England watches his tee shot on the sixth hole during the first round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, August 7, 2014.Brian Snyder

DUBAI (Reuters) - Luke Donald said successive early birdies helped him recapture some of his long-lost confidence as the former world number one went on to shoot a six-under 66 in the second round of the DP World Tour Championship on Friday.

The Englishman, 36, is adrift of the leaders following a first round 76 that gives him a two-under aggregate of 142, but he was upbeat with 36 holes to play at Dubai’s Earth Course.

"I felt a lot better today,” Donald told Reuters.

"Yesterday, I made a couple early bogeys and had that kind of 'here we go again' attitude. Today, I was determined to let every shot be what it was and try my best on the next one. I was a bit better mentally. That related into my physical game and I was able to hole a few more putts.”

Donald birdied the first two holes, bogeyed three and four and then sunk six more birdies including five on the back nine.

"My game can’t be too far away. It’s nice to see some numbers in the 60s, it’s been a bit of a run for me shooting loads of 70s,” said Donald.

In 2011, he became the first golfer to top the U.S. and European Tour money lists in the same season.

Donald, however, has struggled to recapture anything like that form of late.

He had cut back on his work with long-term coach Pat Goss in favor of renowned swing guru Chuck Cook.

Goss had helped put Donald among golf’s best short-game players, but the slightly-built Briton felt he needed to add more distance to challenge at the majors and so recruited Cook.

That switch failed to arrest Donald’s slide down the rankings. He is currently at 39, a five-year low, and has now reunited with Goss.

“He’s always been a mentor to me,” said Donald. “I was still with him last season, it wasn’t a complete breakaway. It was more difficult having two coaches, but Goss has always been really good at understanding how to get the most out of me physically and mentally.”

Donald has a solitary top-10 finish in Europe in 2014 -- joint-third at May’s BMW PGA Championship -- although he fared better in the United States, with three top-10 places on the PGA circuit.

Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Toby Davis

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