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SPORT Donald blames course for slump

World No 1 fails to win a major yet again after slumping to eight-over

By James Corrigan
August 12, 2012

Kiawah Island: Luke Donald knows who to blame for his latest major shortfall — Pete Dye.

Try as he might, the world No 1 could not launch the Saturday charge to move him into contention at the US PGA. Instead, Donald went backwards, his two-over 74 leaving him on eight-over. All there is left to play for is pride; as well as to hit back against the famed architect of the Ocean Course. “Pete Dye is just kicking my ass,” he said. “The course has definitely got the better of me. But with some of the right breaks, I could have been really close this week. I need to get back to 1-1 against the course. At the moment it’s Luke Donald 0 Pete Dye 3.”

Donald wasn’t too down, despite lying among the backmarkers of those who qualified. He thought he had missed the cut when signing for a six-over halfway total on Friday, so another few major rounds are a boost. He believes his progress in the big four is still on an upward curve.

“The majors have been disappointing,” he said. “I had an outside sniff at the Open but other than that I haven’t really been in contention. But I do believe I turned a corner in my mental preparation at Lytham and that this has simply been a case of one of those weeks. I am confident looking forwards. I won’t be thinking, ‘jeez, I’ve got a lot of work to be done on my game’.”

In fairness, Donald is one of the shorter hitters on tour, and this 7 kilometre beast hardly benefits his style of play, particularly when it is this soft. But then, his short game has not been at its sharpest and that is an area he will work on before emerging for the first event of the FedEx Series at Bethpage in two weeks’ time, with a $10 million (Dh36.73 million) bonus in sight. Yet money is not what inspires Donald, majors are, and these are what will retain the brunt of his focus.

“Everything in my schedule is geared towards the big four events,” he said.

“I believe if I get the preparation right, both in terms of my golf and my mind, I will give myself the best chance.”

As it is, Donald may lose his No 1 tag today. As long as Rory McIlroy does not win, Tiger Woods only requires a runners-up finish to reclaim the mantle many feel is his birthright. The pair were the two obvious favourites as the third round began. On two-under,

McIlroy had two shots to make up on Woods, who was sharing the lead with Vijay Singh and Sweden’s Carl Pettersson. Woods and Singh were paired together and much was made of their tense relationship.

They will never be best friends, but the atmosphere between them is not as cold as it was. This was in evidence on the first tee when their exchanged pleasantries. A decade ago, at the peak of their frostiness, Woods wished Singh luck on the first tee. Singh’s response? “Titleist 1”.

All of which was of no concern to Ian Poulter who, one stroke behind in fourth, was eyeing his breakthrough. He was shown the way by his best friend, Justin Rose, who went through the first nine in four under yesterday. Three bogeys in his last six holes dropped him back to two over,

but at the very least Rose had displayed to Poulter that Dye’s layout was “gettable”. Donald concurred “There’s a five-under round out there for sure,” said Donald. What some players would have done to have the chance to prove so. Take Michael Hoey.

The 33 year-old from Belfast was disqualified late on Friday after a rousing comeback following an opening 78.

His 70 was the second-best score on a day which featured only five sub-par rounds. Hoey should have been all smiles after his two-under round, but something nagged away inside as he thought back over his afternoon. On the ninth hole he had brushed away some sand to identify his ball which was buried.

Hoey was confused as to the rules, because of the unique local rule at Kiawah which deems there are no “bunkers”, just sandy areas which should be treated as “through the green”.

Hoey wanted to call a referee but was convinced by Kevin Na, his playing partner not to waste time. Na is one of the slowest players in the game and was concerned the group were on the clock.

Hoey now wishes he had listened to his instinct. “At the time, I’d no idea that I was required cover the ball again,” explained Hoey.

“All I needed to do was sprinkle a few grains back on top of it and that’d be fine. I really should have called for one of the rules guys but Kevin Na kind of rushed me.”

The doubt set in when he replayed the hole in his mind. “About 8.20 after dinner, I went straight up to the club after calling my coach and caddie to make sure I had things right,” said Hoey.

“I was just re-living the hole as I’d sunk a really long putt for par. As soon as I realised what had happened, I went to the club.” The result was disqualification. A harsh ruling which once again doesn’t put the game in a great light.

— The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2012

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