Donaldson’s win means three of the four winners on The European Tour so far this season are former Challenge Tour regulars after 2010 graduate Scott Jamieson claimed the season-opening Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa before one of the Tour’s most famous alumni, Louis Oosthuizen, emerged victorious at the Volvo Golf Champions.While the Challenge Tour is more widely known as the breeding ground for the future generation of European Tour stars, it also provides an opportunity for players to rebuild their careers after a dip in form. Donaldson has fulfilled those two criteria during a long career which has reached new heights in the past 12 months.
In 2001, he made his breakthrough on the Challenge Tour with two victories helping him to a second place finish in the Rankings and a Rookie season on The European Tour in 2002.After some injury problems, the 37 year old returned to the Challenge Tour in 2007 and managed to rebuild his game and confidence, winning a third title on the tour en route to a fourth place finish in the Rankings.
His career has been on an upward curve since and his victory at last year’s Irish Open provided the springboard which has earned him a place amongst the golfing elite, culminating in his victory in Abu Dhabi last week.The Macclesfield-based player is now 29th in the Official World Golf Ranking and will make his Masters Tournament debut this year.
“I had lost my card, played Challenge Tour in 2007 and since then it's just been a rebuilding process, just finding things that work to put in the whole package to be able to just keep getting better every year at doing the things that I do well.“That is what has enabled me to win twice in the space of a year. The golf keeps getting better, I just had to keep working on the same things that enable me to play well, and that's why I won in Ireland and Abu Dhabi.”
The first tournament of the Challenge Tour season, the 2013 Gujarat Kensville Challenge, takes place next week at Kensville Golf and Country Club, near Ahmedabad in India, and Donaldson’s rise to glory will provide plenty of inspiration for the many players in the field that have suffered poor form on The European Tour in recent years and enter the 2013 Challenge Tour season hoping to rise again.Donaldson’s compatriot Rhys Davies and former Ryder Cup star Oliver Wilson are two such players searching for a return to the highest level, with Davies hoping to recapture the form that saw him lift the prestigious Trophée Hassan II in 2010 and Wilson looking to achieve the kind of high level consistency that saw him automatically qualify for Europe’s 2008 Ryder Cup Team.