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Revitalized Donald targets repeat of 2011 success

Luke Donald of England hits onto the 18th green during the fourth and final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates
Luke Donald of England hits onto the 18th green during the fourth and final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - A refreshed Luke Donald aims to prosper from a delayed start to his 2013 PGA Tour campaign, just as he did two years ago when he went on to complete the most successful season of his career.

The Briton won four times worldwide in 2011 and became the first player to clinch the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic after spending much of that year atop of the rankings.

In a similar move, Donald has not competed since he tied for third at the European Tour's DP World Tour Championship in November in a bid to recharge his batteries for another long, globe-trotting season.

"Obviously it's a little bit of a late start for me this year," the English world number three told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for this week's Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.

"It's something I did back in 2011, and it worked very well for me back then. You know, it's been a long year (in 2012) ... and it's hard to find time where you can actually work on your swing to try and make some improvements with your game.

"So I took a decent amount of time off but I feel rested, I feel ready to go. I've been working hard on the swing, and I'm looking forward to starting again here this week."

Asked what specific changes he had made to his game since the end of 2012, Donald replied: "I don't really like to use the word changes, more just improvements.

"I'm constantly striving to get the club in a little bit better position at the top, a bit more neutral, a little bit deeper with maybe slightly more cup in the left wrist.

"And I'm always working on the downswing, trying to get my hands and arms a little bit more underneath me, so I flip left past impact. So I'm working on that, and working on obviously continuing to be sharper on the short game."

NO PRESSURE

Six PGA Tour events have already taken place this season with Americans Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker among those claiming early wins but Donald feels no pressure to play catch-up.

"I've been around the tour long enough to know that it's a marathon, it's not a sprint," said Donald, a five-times winner on the U.S. circuit. "It's been a long season. It's about positioning yourself.

"Obviously Brandt has got off to a great start, and it's nice to see Tiger and Phil playing well. Any time you have the great players playing well, it inspires you to work harder and try and catch them."

Donald, who also spent time during the off-season getting advice from NBA great Michael Jordan on his mental approach to sport, has always enjoyed playing on the iconic par-71 Riviera layout.

"Riviera is always a great course with a great field, it's one of the classic golf courses we play all year," said the Briton, who is playing the event for a 12th consecutive time. "And as usual, no real changes this year to the previous year.

"It's in good shape. You've just got to control your ball around this place. What makes this place difficult are the greens more than anything. You really have to think about how the ball comes into the greens.

"They are very small. They can get firm. You don't hit many greens around here compared to some of the other places."

Donald is scheduled to tee off with Australian Adam Scott and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell in Thursday's opening round at Riviera.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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