Donald finds new liking for links golf
Luke Donald and links golf have not always seen eye to eye – but the 31-year-old is clearly getting the hang of it.
Luke Donald and links golf have not always been compatable – he missed the halfway cut the first five times he played The Open.
But the 31-year-old is clearly getting the hang of it.
He was fifth at Turnberry in July and today he took a one-shot lead into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
Victory would be sweet indeed for the Ryder Cup star. His last win anywhere was more than three and a half years ago, his last in Europe was in 2004 and he has never won a professional event in Britain.
It would also be his first title since recovering from the serious wrist injury which put him out of golf for six months last year.
Ex-Liverpool footballer Jamie Redknapp was alongside him again in the celebrity pro-am – they met on Donald’s honeymoon two years ago – but there was just as much attention on the other two players in the final group.
Rory McIlroy partners his father and with the tournament having spilled into an extra day because of Saturday’s high winds, it will now reach its climax on Gerry’s 50th birthday.
They were unlikely to win the team event, resuming nine behind, but to play with his son at the Home of Golf on the day he could record his second pro victory and go top of the European money list for the first time makes it really special.
A first prize of over £485,000 is up for grabs and it promises to be a close finish.
McIlroy shared second place overnight with England’s Simon Dyson, while only two behind in joint fourth were two more Northern Irish players in Darren Clarke and
Michael Hoey, Scot Richie Ramsay and Rafael Cabrera-Bello, the Spaniard who shot 60 to win in Austria two weeks ago.
But Donald was the one carrying the most momentum into the last 18 holes.
He opened with “only” a 72 at Carnoustie on Thursday, but then shot 65 round St Andrews and followed that yesterday with a nine-birdie 64 at Kingsbarns which equalled his lowest round on the European Tour.
And there was an extra reason he wanted to turn it into victory.
An American journalist coined the phrase “Luke Donald Disease” this summer, claiming that “most top British players” were sufferers and he just happened to be the best example of a get-rich-quick golfer lacking the drive to fulfil his potential.
Not surprisingly, it did not go down well with Donald, his family or his fans.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met the guy,” commented Donald. “If I did I would say I didn’t really appreciate it and that I felt it was extremely far off the mark.
“It was slightly hurtful. I have a great desire and I want to be as successful as I can. I certainly don’t turn up thinking about how much money I can make.
“I like having stuff named after me, but not a disease.”
McIlroy matched Donald’s 65 on Friday, so he was looking forward to tackling the Old course again.
“I need to take the tournament by the scruff of the neck, which I intend to,” he said. “It’s a congested leaderboard and I’m going to have to play very well.”
Dyson won in Holland in August and was a team-mate of McIlroy in Britain and Ireland’s Vivendi Trophy win over Continental Europe in Paris two weeks ago.
He is full of confidence as well and admits he was jealous when his great friend Nick Dougherty won this event two years ago.
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