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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Wednesday, 2 June 2010 16:58 UK

Jamie Donaldson is back to his best after injury

Venue: Celtic Manor Resort, Newport Date: 3-6 June Starts: 0700 BST
Coverage: Score updates on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live and online. Saturday highlights at 2345 BST on BBC TWO Wales and Sunday highlights at 2230 BST on BBC TWO Wales. Live on Sky Sports 3

Jamie Donaldson
Donaldson says he has learned how to manage a stress fracture in his back

By Peter Shuttleworth

Jamie Donaldson is feeling the benefit of being rubbed up the right way.

The 34-year-old is enjoying his best season on tour, following in fellow Welsh success story Rhys Davies' slipstream, and thanks to a twice-daily massage on a back injury that almost ended his career.

Rookie Davies, currently ninth in the European Tour's Race to Dubai standings, is quite rightly capturing the headlines but Donaldson's career has been quietly transformed from a struggling also-ran to consistent tournament contender.

Donaldson arrived at this week's Wales Open at Celtic Manor in the form of his life thanks to five top 10 finishes in his last six tournaments - the first time he has achieved five top 10s in a season in his 10-year career.

And Donaldson, who has a stress fracture in his back, insists his success is thanks to his daily therapy.

"I've had two massages a day for the last two years from the guys in The Race to Dubai physio truck," Donaldson said.

"They must be so bored of me, thinking: 'Here he is again,' as I get the same thing done twice a day.

"I get properly stretched and massaged. It only takes 20 minutes a time but it's been great and if I don't do that, then I've got less chance of playing."

Wales' World Cup player has come back after dropping from golf's top-flight into the second-tier Challenge Tour in 2007 - forcing Donaldson to reassess his professional life and learn how to manage an injury that will always to plague his golfing career.

So Donaldson, from Church Village in Rhondda Cynon Taf, adopted a less-is-more policy.

"I don't practise as hard as I was doing before," he said.

"I can't really because with my back. I can't hit as many balls as I used to so now my practising is more quality than quantity.

Jamie Donaldson
I suddenly thought if I don't do something, I'm going to have to do something else because I'm not making any money.

Jamie Donaldson

"I practise at events but when I'm at home, I don't play. I might have a knock with sponsors but I won't go home and practise like mad, like I used to.

"In the old days and [I] would be burned out by the time I got to events. Now as I don't play so much at home, I come out hungry and can't wait to play.

"So my back is fine again and, like the golf, I am managing it and it seems to be working."

Donaldson sought advice from spinal rehab therapist Jon Bowskill who helped fellow golfer Nick Dougherty and cricket stars Alec Stewart and Mark Ramprakash.

"Jon has done a brilliant job on me," he said.

"I used to practise so much for so long... and as soon as I finished, I would get in the car, drive home, then sit on the couch and do nothing.

"I never stretched, I never did anything - then the body suddenly went, it just had enough.

"Jon helped with a lot of exercises. He gave me a really good core muscle grounding. I do a lot of work to take strain off the lower back which makes me feel a lot looser to be able to play.

"You see, my back injury is a genetic problem but if I didn't play golf, I probably wouldn't know about it but I keep aggravating it every time I swing."

Donaldson, who is now 36th on the Race to Dubai, recalled dropping out of the European Tour in 2007 as a turning point in a career that was in danger of going nowhere.

"It was a kick in the backside really," he admitted.

"I played the first three weeks on a South American trip on the Challenge Tour - and I played quite well in the first two weeks.

"But what I was getting for my troubles was so little. If I was a business, I would be going bust.

"I suddenly thought if I don't do something, I'm going to have to do something else because I'm not making any money. Then I won the next week in Guatemala and from that point everything went on for the better."

Donaldson also revived his coaching relationship with former European Tour winner David Llewellyn and the 1987 World Cup champ has "simplified" his game.

The Welshman now living in Cheshire, who tied fourth at the 2010 China Open, had three top-sixes in Andalucía; the Ballentines Championship and in Madrid last week now hopes to improve on his Celtic Manor best of joint fourth in 2001.

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