Tiger Woods and Justin Rose have games that Luke Donald admires, so when the time came for Donald to make the hard call to change swing coaches, the formerly top-ranked golfer hoped for a date with Sean Foley, the man holding the video camera behind both the world No. 1 and the reigning U.S. Open champion.
The problem for Donald, who enters this week’s BMW Championship 54th in FedExCup points and 161st on the PGA Tour in driving distance, was that Foley’s dance card was full.
"He didn't think, considering what he had on his plate, that he could give me 100 percent of the commitment I needed," Donald told reporters ahead of Thursday's BMW Championship start at Conway Farms Golf Club. "I told him I wanted to work hard and I wanted to put in a lot of time, and he was worried that, having a young family and all the responsibility that he has, that he wouldn't be able to give me that 100 percent commitment, and I totally understand that."
Two years removed from attaining the top spot in the world rankings, becoming the first golfer to win dual money titles on the PGA and European Tours, and earning accolades as both tours’ player of the year, Donald has scuffled in 2013. Along with four top-10 finishes, he has missed three cuts and finished tied for 41st in each of the first two of four FedExCup playoff matches.
In addition to needing a superlative performance this week -- on the course where he’s been a member for more than 10 years -- to make his way into the top 30 and advance to the Tour Championship, Donald has fallen to 13th in the world and is searching for a way to climb back into the game.
The 35-year-old Englishman, who will continue working with long-time coach Pat Goss on his short game, said he began to consider finding a new pair of eyes for his swing after playing with Rose in the final round at Merion. He made the "tough decision" to switch swing coaches after missing the cut at the British Open.
"I really hadn't given it a thought who I would change to until after the Open Championship," said Donald. "I was very impressed with Sean's guys and how they strike the ball: Hunter [Mahan], Tiger, obviously, Justin. Those guys hit a lot of quality shots."
Foley, who has Lee Westwood in his stable as well, explained he had no room on his roster, but suggested Donald look up Chuck Cook, who helped Jason Dufner win the PGA Championship last month. What Donald seeks is to remove "the flip" from his swing and employ his larger muscles more, which, he averred, will give him more consistency from tee to green.
"I think someone who was at the pinnacle of the game not too long ago and is now 54th on the FedExCup, it's been disappointing," Donald said. "It's been very hard this year. It's been frustrating at times, and I've had to make some tough decisions … It's been a bit of a distraction because of some of those things."
A self-described "quick learner," Donald believes he’s on the right track since he enlisted Cook's services a month ago, and insisted that all he needed were four good rounds in the no-cut event to turn around a lackluster season.
"I feel pretty good about where things are headed, and I'm excited about the future," he said. "This year I still have time to rescue it. I'm going to have to do that this week, and that's the beauty of the FedExCup. It takes one good week to kind of rescue a year. And I certainly have that opportunity this week."