New year sees Donald trying fresh approach

Luke Donald
Luke Donald
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IT will surprise some people to hear that Luke Donald is trying out new clubs after the year he has just had.

But England’s world No 1 is determined to make 2012 even better, with a first major, of course, top of his wish list – as it is for second-ranked Lee Westwood.

“This seemed like the perfect week to try some new stuff,” said Donald, although he has anything but a low-key start to the season.

He goes head to head with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – the two highest-profile players in golf at the moment – in the first two rounds of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m not one to change and tinker too much, but the times when I do are usually at the beginning of a season.

“Whether they’ll be in my bag in a few weeks who knows, but certainly I did some good preparation work and it felt very solid.

“Winning four times last year and picking up all the awards adds a lot of confidence.

“It’s a new year and I have new things to achieve hopefully. Last year will be hard to follow, but there’s certainly a lot more in this game for me to achieve.”

As there is for Westwood, older than his compatriot by four years and with far more near misses in the majors.

Hopes are high again for the 38-year-old after comprehensive wins in South Africa and Thailand last month, performances highlighted by rounds of 62 and 60.

Improved putting was the key and Westwood was understandably delighted to see that only about four weeks into his work with Phil Kenyon.

“I think it’s very difficult to win a major without making a few that are surprising or bonuses, so if I can start rolling in a few 25- to 30-footers that’s obviously going to make a massive difference,” said Westwood. “My practice is a lot more structured and based around drills to make sure I do the same thing over and over again.

“It helps your whole game. If you start making putts that you have not been making then it takes the pressure off your long game.”

Malton’s Simon Dyson – currently 28th in the world – leads the Yorkshire charge, with Hull’s Richard Finch and Sheffield’s Danny Willett also in action.