Donald charged out early in the day’s fourth threesome on his way to a 5-under 66 and the early lead at Harbour Town. His six-birdie effort came up one stroke short of his best round at the Heritage, 65s on Day 2 in 2011 and Day 3 in ’09, but considering Thursday’s windy conditions it was certainly a step in the right direction.
“It was a pretty simple 66,” said Donald, who has three runner-up showings and two third-place finishes at the Heritage. “I didn’t have to scramble very hard and was able to just put it in good positions.”
Donald’s round included plenty of clutch putting, which has been missing from his game in recent months, with birdie putts of 15 feet (No. 3), 16 feet (No. 11), 6 feet (No. 13) and 5 feet (No. 17).
In 10 starts at Harbour Town – which is widely considered one of the PGA Tour’s more positional golf courses at 7,101 yards – Donald has only missed the cut twice and has finished outside the top 15 just once since 2004.
“It's a classic Pete Dye, one of his earlier Pete Dye's. Not very long, small greens,” Donald said. “You get some wind here. Anywhere from 10 to 14 [under] wins here. He had a blank canvas to work on Whistling Straits, 8,000 yards, bunkers everywhere, and what does Jason Day shoot? It's built to be a major championship and he shoots 20 under.”