For Luke Donald, there is a lot more at stake at the Scottish Open this week than just searching for his first win since the 2012 BMW PGA Championship.
That’s because the former world No.1 is currently running the risk of missing only his third Open since making his debut in 1999 at Carnoustie – and must finish as one of the top three not otherwise exempt at Dundonald Links to make it to Royal Birkdale next week.
Donald failed to qualify in 2001 and only missed out in 2008 due to a wrist injury and, in still harbouring major aspirations, says he’ll be gutted to miss out.
“My goal is still to compete in and win major championships so if I’m not in the field, that’s not a good start,” Donald told bunkered.co.uk. “I’ll be disappointed if I miss out.
“There’s been a lot of good in my career and this has been a bit of a rough patch. But you learn a little bit more from those tough times and it’s going to make the good times feel even better when they come back.”
Donald finished second at the RBC Heritage in April but has failed to make the cut in his six PGA Tour starts since.
He hopes, however, that returning to a tournament he won back in 2011 at Castle Stuart will give him the confidence to turn things around.
“My game hasn’t been very consistent but it doesn’t feel very far away at all,” added Donald. “It’s very fickle this game – a little bit here, a little bit there – and I feel like I need a little bit of momentum which I think I can get from an event I’ve had success at.
“I always love coming back to Scotland and playing links golf and especially when you’re playing a tournament you’ve won before. I’ve played here before too, before the 2009 Open at Turnberry, so I have some familiarity of it – not much but maybe more than most people.”
The 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell is also in a similar predicament to Donald after surrendering the opportunity to attend Final Open Qualifying in order to fully focus on last week’s Irish Open – where he missed the cut – and the Scottish Open. He hasn’t missed an Open since making his debut in 2004.