Donald Maintains Slim Lead in Dallas

By Associated PressApril 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 EDS Byron Nelson ChampionshipIRVING, Texas -- Luke Donald barely held onto the lead at the Byron Nelson Championship.
After a bogey at No. 17, Donald made a par-saving putt on the closing hole Saturday to finish his 11th straight under-par round in the Nelson, a 3-under 67 that put him at 10-under 200 with a one-stroke lead over Scott Verplank going into the final round.
Donald, finally leading the Nelson after all his subpar rounds in the event, had consecutive bogeys early to fall behind by two strokes. The Englishman recovered with five birdies in a 10-hole stretch that were enough to put him back ahead.
Verplank (66) grew up in the Dallas area and first met Byron Nelson as a teenager. Now in his 21st Nelson, the 43-year-old Verplank will play in the final group Sunday with a chance to finally win it -- in the first Nelson tournament played without its namesake.
Play was stopped midway through the round for a moment of silence in honor of Nelson that was followed by a flyover by a squadron of fighter jets. It was the first time the PGA Tour ever had such a stoppage during a tournament.
Nelson, who in 1968 became the first golfer to have a PGA TOUR event named after him, died Sept. 26. He was 94.
Donald had never finished a round leading the Nelson before this year, but has now led two in a row -- even after his tee shot at the 196-yard 17th hole wound up in the bunker fronting the pin and his approach at the closing hole ended up more than 50 feet from the pin before a 5-foot par putt.
If Donald can make it three rounds in a row with the lead, he will have his third PGA TOUR victory.
Michael Allen, the 48-year-old journeyman who got into the Nelson by surviving a playoff in a qualifying event Monday, was alone in third at 8 under after his bogey-free 64. Ian Poulter (65) was 6 under.
Phil Mickelson (66) and Vijay Singh (69), the only top-10 players in the world playing this week, were in a group at 5 under with Ken Duke (64), Ryuji Imada (67) and Fredrik Jacobson (71).
Donald, No. 11 in the world, has finished 17 of his 21 career rounds at the Nelson over the last six tournaments under par.
There was a quick birdie Saturday, hitting his approach at the 490-yard third hole within 5 feet, before Donald suddenly got in trouble and was over par for his round.
After missing the green at the 425-yard No. 4, Donald two-putted from 7 feet for bogey. Then at the elongated green on the 181-yard fifth, he three-putted from 57 feet to go to 7 under -- and was two strokes behind Verplank.
Donald got a stroke back with a birdie at the 533-yard seventh hole, then had four birdies in seven holes after making the turn. He hit his approach to 6 feet for birdie at No. 10, then slid a 10-foot birdie attempt past the hole at No. 11. Consecutive birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 got him to 10 under, and he had another at the 554-yard 16th -- the easiest hole on the course.
Verplank was bogey free until he got to No. 13, the par 3 where he didn't get on the green until his third shot. He missed the fairway at No. 15, then couldn't reach the green with his second shot.
But he had a nice finish with a nifty approach at No. 18 that set up a 4-foot birdie putt.
The closest Verplank came to a Nelson title was in 2001 when he lost in a four-hole playoff to Robert Damron.
Defending champion Brett Wetterich, the last Nelson winner to get a personal congratulation from Nelson at No. 18, twice had consecutive bogeys in a round of 72 that dropped him to 4 under and six strokes off the lead.
Beside the moment of silence Saturday, officials unveiled the design of the Congressional Gold Medal that will be presented posthumously to Nelson. The medal includes two images of Nelson, one a profile shot in his traditional fedora hat and the other is of a younger Nelson swinging a club and surrounded by the words 'Player, Teacher, Humanitarian, Champion.'
Donald's three-round total of 200 is the highest for a leader at the Nelson since 2000. The last time it was higher was in 1986, when Andy Bean had a 201 total through 54 holes on way to winning. ... Duke, the 38-year-old coming off his career-best runner-up finish last weekend in New Orleans, had a bogey-free 64 in the second group of the day. 'Don't wake me up here,' Duke joked. ... SMU golfer Colt Knost, the first amateur since Justin Leonard in 1993 to make the cut at the Nelson, followed his second-round 64 with a 74 on Saturday.
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    Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

    The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

    The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

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    This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

    After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

    “I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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    Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

    Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

    “I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

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    Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

    To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

    “More punishment,” he said.

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    DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

    Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

    Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

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    Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

    It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

    With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

    Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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    TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

    • Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

    • This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

    • Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


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    • In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

    • At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

    • Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

    • My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.