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Luke Donald: Record-breaking space jump psychologist stopped me quitting golf

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Luke Donald has never been one to shy away from his problems, but for the first time the English golfer has admitted he almost quit golf -- before telling himself to "grow up and not be a baby" after a meeting with the leading psychologist who helped record-breaking sky diver Felix Baumgartner overcome his fears.

Donald spent more than a year as world No.1 from May 2011 to August 2012, a period in which he won and defended the BMW PGA Championship as well as becoming the first player ever to top the money list on both the European and PGA Tours.

But other than lifting the Dunlop Phoenix title on the Japan Tour, that win at Wentworth almost four years ago was the Englishman's last. So he turned to Dr Michael Gervais, the man credited with getting Baumgartner through his chronic claustrophobia before becoming the first person to break the sound barrier when he jumped to earth from space in 2012.

"He just reminded me that it's up to me what mood or mindset I'm in," Donald told the Sunday Telegraph. "When you're in a slump it's easy to forget you're still the one who is in control.

"My confidence had taken a big knock and I asked myself if I wanted to continue doing this.

"I wasn't enjoying it, finding it so very hard and could not see much light at the end of the tunnel. But then I told myself not to be a baby, to grow up and realise how lucky I was that I was still playing golf for a living."

It's not the first time Donald has faced up to his problems. He told ESPN in May he was feeling "very down" about his game after battling to find form after a number of swing changes. His miserable, win-free run of form saw the 38-year-old miss the cut in five of the 10 major championships since finishing in a tie for eighth at the 2013 U.S. Open, and he was left out of Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup squad at Gleneagles the following year. He began the new year at 78th in the world rankings.

"There was a time where I kept looking at the world rankings and kept seeing myself slipping," Donald added. "And I think that's the wrong approach. I've always been most successful when I have a plan and stick to it.

"Every day try to get a little better, incremental improvement. Of course, the goal is to get back in the top 50, then get back in the top 25, start getting some top 10s again, start winning tournaments again and just get back into that feeling.

"I think I have a little bit of a way to go, but I'm feeling confident that I can get back to at least close to the level I was a few years ago. I felt like it was very close the last few months.

"It just didn't quite click. I haven't had that one breakout win to kind of get the confidence going enough. But certainly I feel optimistic about my chances going forward.

"I need to be one of the best in the world with my short game if I'm going to be successful out here with the way I play golf. But it's improving and coming back. I'll get there."

Lottery dash

Meanwhile, Donald's wife Diane tweeted on Saturday that the pair had made a last-minute trip to buy tickets for the Powerball -- the United States' national lottery -- which had reached a prize fund of more than $900 million (£620m).

No one won the money and it has now rolled over to roughly $1.3 billion (£895m). Not that the Donald family will lose any sleep over it -- the golfer's career-earnings at the end of 2015 stood at a little more than $50m (£36m).