Grading Luke Donald's 2013 PGA Tour Debut at the Northern Trust Open
Considering he finished in a tie for 16th after starting off with rounds of 69 and 66 in the Northern Trust Open, Donald can’t be pleased with that, and I’m among those who wasn’t impressed.
Yes, this was his first start of the new year, and there had to be some rustiness, but this wasn’t the Luke Donald we’ve come to appreciate.
Here’s a breakdown of how Donald, the third-ranked player in the world, fared at Riviera Country Club.
Back in 2000, Luke Donald averaged 265.7 yards off the tee, and that ranked him 166th on the PGA Tour. In his first week on the Tour in 2013, Donald averaged 270 yards off the tee.
And while conclusions shouldn’t be jumped to based on one tournament, Donald’s yardage off the tee might eventually be what keeps the Englishman from winning the major championship he covets so much.
2. Driving Accuracy
You would have to go back to 2007 to find a season in which Donald didn’t hit 60-plus percent of the fairways with his drives.
This week at Riviera, that number dropped to 35.71 percent.
That’s far below good, mediocre or even acceptable.
3. Greens in Regulation
One of the strongest parts of Donald’s game, other than his superb short game, is the brilliance in his iron game.
But like everyone else in the field this week, hitting greens was made more difficult because Riviera’s greens are some of the smallest on Tour.
He hit 61.11 percent of them in his first outing of the year.
Donald led the PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting three of the last four years (he was third in the other year).
He’s deadly with the flat stick, and his putting skills have kept him in many golf tournaments and in contention in a great many of those.
But this week, on those tricky Riviera greens, his putting average was 1.818, and he was actually on the losing end of the strokes gained-putting stat, 0.415.
Hardly the kind of number an elite player would be satisfied with.
All in all, an unsatisfactory week for the one-time World No. 1.
He won’t be pleased about how he finished, rounds of 70 and 75, but the good news is that the next time he tees it up will be this week in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play not far from Tucson.
Oh, did I mention he won that event in 2011?
Expect him to be a big factor when the event starts Wednesday.
But for this week: