Donald struggles late, but remains just 2 back

Luke Donald escapes a bunker on the 17th hole, where he shot a bogey. Donald said he was happy with "a really solid 16 holes of golf that I played." MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Luke Donald escapes a bunker on the 17th hole, where he shot a bogey. Donald said he was happy with "a really solid 16 holes of golf that I played." MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Posted: June 16, 2013

For 14 holes, Luke Donald played golf as flawlessly as the 35-year-old often swings a golf club.

But as he did in his first two rounds, Donald ran out of gas once he hit the home stretch of holes at Merion Golf Club, especially the difficult quarry holes at Nos. 16-18.

The first hiccup came at No. 15, after he dropped an approach shot four feet from the pin. Donald missed the putt that would have moved him to 3 under and into sole possession of the lead. He made par at 16, though, and held a 1-stroke lead after Hunter Mahan and Charl Schwartzel went bogey-bogey on the final two holes.

Donald went one worse, however, and bogeyed 17 and double-bogeyed 18 to drop to 1-over for the tournament and into a three-way tie with Justin Rose and Billy Horschel after three rounds. Both his tee shot at the par-3 17th and his approach shot at the par-4 18th went right.

"It might be a little bit of fatigue, but it was both yardages I had to get a little extra out of the 2-iron," Donald said. "And my poor swings [are] when I attack too hard from the top and I get out of sync and they go right. And unfortunately those holes are playing tough."

They're also playing long, which doesn't play to Donald's strengths. But the Brit is steady as can be off the tee and has as good a short game as anyone playing. For most of Saturday, he outplayed Phil Mickelson, his playing partner. But Mickelson has a 1-stroke lead, and Donald is 2 back.

"I should have done better. It was disappointing," Donald said. "But I'll take the positives out of today, a really solid 16 holes of golf that I played, and I'm only 2 back."

Aside from a bogey at 6, Donald played the other side of Ardmore Avenue as well as anyone in the third round. He birdied the par-5 fourth, the par-4 eighth, and the par-4 10th. But he fumbled the lead on the other side and at the final three holes.

Donald has played those holes at 5 over through the first three rounds. Mickelson, by comparison, has played them 1 under.

Donald is still on the unofficial Best Players Not to Win a Major list. He pointed to Mickelson, who did not win his first major until he was 33, as proof that he can still win a big one.

"Yeah, of course that's my goal," Donald said. "I want to win majors. I got to No. 1 in the world, and I've won a great amount of tournaments around the world, but I would dearly love to win one of these."


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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