AUGUSTA, Ga. – On the eve of the Masters, Luke Donald used his best material to jab the media at the annual Golf Writers Association of America awards dinner.
There to collect his prize as the PGA Tour player of the year, Donald’s Rodney Dangerfield-esque shtick revolved around the media ignoring him despite his status as the world’s top-ranked player.
“It’s strange,” he said, “to be in a roomful of people.”
Donald mentioned one national media member by name and said: “I was No. 1 for six straight weeks, and he still thought I was (fellow English golfer) Tom Lewis.”
At one point Donald threw on a curly black wig in homage to Rory McIlroy, a media darling. Champions Tour star Tom Lehman received the next award and said: “I didn’t know I’d be following a stand-up comedian.”
The Northwestern alumnus got plenty of attention Thursday, but mostly for the wrong reasons. His 3-over 75 was the worst first-day score in his eight Masters starts.
And for a little while, it appeared Donald’s next drive would be to the airport. A Masters official reported that he signed for a 73, which would have resulted in a disqualification. His status was in limbo until someone realized that a “3” looks a bit like a “5.”
Donald correctly reported that he made a bogey 5 on the fifth hole, but somehow that got lost in translation. Or transmission. Some reports blamed a fax machine, with media members joking that it was apropos for a club that, on some issues, seems stuck in another century.
Masters officials called it an “administrative error,” and Donald, through a representative, declined to comment. Wife Diane tweeted: “Just got off the phone with Luke, NOT disqualified. Thank goodness.”
Either way, it wasn’t chuckle-worthy.
Unlike this from Donald: “It’s rare seeing (golf writers) in suits … almost as rare as seeing you on the golf course. Every time I see you out there, I think: The free buffet must be closed.”
Donald’s material Wednesday was way better than his golf game Thursday.
“I struggled,” he said. “I didn’t hit enough good iron shots, unfortunately, and I didn’t make the putts I needed to. It was frustrating, for sure.”
Donald said he wrote his own jokes for Wednesday’s fete and enjoyed the chance to show his comedic side.
“I was told it was the right crowd to do that, and it seemed to be appreciated,” he said. “You guys punch us; we punch you back sometimes.”