By Sarah Gwynn, europeantour.com
Scotland’s Chris Doak picked up a few tips from Luke Donald when he played a practice round with the Englishman and Americans Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson at the US Open Championship.
The 36 year old came through qualifying at Walton Heath a fortnight ago for the year’s second Major – the second time in succession he has done so – and cannot wait to get going on Pinehurst’s No. 2 course, which he likens to the links layouts he plays back home.
“It’s just great to be at this tournament again,” said Doak, who is currently 84th in The Race to Dubai. “The crowds, the atmosphere, everything – it’s fantastic. I love it out here with how friendly and positive everyone is.
“I played yesterday with Luke, Keegan and Dustin, which was great. Donald’s short game is something else. He hit a 60-yard bunker shot and stopped it dead next to the pin. Even Dustin Johnson was like, ‘Wow, how good was that?’
“And Dustin is just a beast. He bombs it everywhere, it’s unbelievable. They’re nice guys and I learned a few things from them. I feel pretty comfortable with these boys, and with all the crowds watching.
“Last year I had some fun with the crowds as they liked my hat. It’s the same this year – I’ve had a few good comments.”
Doak will also benefit from his experience at last year’s US Open Championship at Merion, and will be hoping to emulate New Zealander Michael Campbell, who won at Pinehurst in 2005 after coming through qualifying.
“I’m playing well and feeling good,” he added. “I feel really comfortable out here. It’s a tough course but it’s a bit like home with its linksy feel and undulating greens. The heat is a bit different though!
“I got here on Sunday night and played nine holes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ve played the back nine twice and the front nine once. Last year I came out on the Thursday night but it was too long. I was hanging about. This time coming out on Sunday, I get three days preparation and go straight in, which is much better.”