NCG’s columnist Robert Rock on Jamie DonaldsonOctober 17, 2014 News & Tour
Watching my old mate Jamie in the Ryder Cup was inspiring
ANYONE who has played under Paul McGinley – I was lucky enough to do so in two Seve Trophy matches – will tell you how meticulous he is and that really came across at Gleneagles.
It didn’t surprise me the lengths he went to in getting to know and get the best out of his players. I’m good mates with Jamie Donaldson and was chuffed to watch him secure the winning point and play so well all week. He’s probably the same golfer, with the same skills, that he was a few years ago but now he has the real inner belief.
We both used to get a bit frustrated that we weren’t winning tournaments a few years ago and, since his victory in Ireland, it’s done wonders for his game and he’s been playing great ever since. Now he’s got over the line he doesn’t question himself any more and where he is on the world rankings (25th) is where he thinks he should be.
Jamie is steady and reliable off the tee but his short game is awesome and I’m constantly trying to pick his brains on chipping and putting. He seems to find putting really easy and has a lot of shots around the green.
At St Andrews a couple of years ago we were messing about on a tee waiting for the green to clear and trying to clear the advertising boards when he managed to hit one backwards which I’ve never seen before.
His coach got it on camera and it was really weird to watch – it went straight up and a little bit backwards. So, if you have got that sort of control on the clubface, then you are going to be pretty good.
Thankfully my own game has improved over the past few weeks and I’m back going in the right direction again. My putting has been very ordinary for a long time and I’ve now changed to a putter without any alignment aids which I maybe haven’t done for about 10 years. It has just made the stroke a little less careful and my speed has improved and that’s the big point of putting.
There have been a few improvements in my chipping, my irons have been a bit sharper, I’m playing courses I like and, all of a sudden, it’s starting to happen. I’ve also got a new TaylorMade JetSpeed 3 wood which goes the same distance as my old 13˚ 3 wood but on a higher, softer-landing flight. I can now use it off the tee and get closer at par 5s and that is so important on tour.
Holland was a big turning point as I was three over in the first round, and under a bit of pressure to keep my card, so making the cut was important. I was five over with 13 holes to go and managed to play the last few in five under and birdied the last two to make the weekend. That was great when you’re not playing your best or too confident about your game and I then had a good weekend and continued that in Wales.
One thing I haven’t done very much this season is have a good Thursday. If you can do that, then it takes the pressure off and you get into the week.
At Celtic Manor I began with a 67 and finished with a 65 and only finished three behind the winner Joost Luiten.
This was my first top 10 since Dubai so that was a long time ago and, looking back over the whole week, I probably had my chances to win but was more than happy to finish where I did.
Your week can turn on one or two shots and that week I reacted well. The 14th is the hardest hole on the course. They moved the tee up on the Saturday and maybe I hadn’t quite done enough homework earlier in the week to get the line right into the wind. I was first on the tee, got the line wrong, finished in the water and then had to tee it up from the same spot and made a double bogey. We then had a go-for-it moment on the 18th where we had 240 yards to go. If you came up short there was a chance of another double but I hit the green and a birdie made the day an OK one and the Sunday was the best round of the year.
So now I’m looking forward again and a few good weeks could see me get into the top 60 and into Dubai.