Donald Readies for Major Breakout

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill -- Luke Donald wants to be considered the best player in the world.
Well, here's his chance.

The British expatriate with the big dreams will be on full display Sunday, sharing the lead and playing with Tiger Woods in the final group at the PGA Championship. Not only does he have a chance to win his first major and break Europe's long PGA losing streak, but it's Donald's chance to prove he can do more than talk.
Luke Donald
Luke Donald has the home crowd at his back this week at Medinah.
'This is my first chance, really, of trying to impress,' he said after his 3-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole helped him tie with Woods at 14-under.
'This is where I want to be,' said Donald, who lives nearby. 'This is what I need to do if I want to realize that dream and try to become the best player in the world.'
Donald has been one of those 'players on the rise' seemingly forever. He won the NCAA title at nearby Northwestern in 1999, and led Britain and Ireland to victory in the Walker Cup five years ago. He's played on a Ryder Cup team, won two PGA Tour events and was tied for third at the 2005 Masters -- though he was so far from Woods and Chris DiMarco he might as well have been playing in South Carolina.
But he's never been able to break through at the biggest events.
After winning the Honda Classic in March, Donald said he needed an attitude adjustment. If his goal was to unseat Woods as best in the world, he needed to start thinking -- and playing -- as if he was capable of doing it.
'I think the only way for me to catch him is to start believing I'm as good as him,' Donald said then. 'If I don't believe that, I'm not going to be as good as him, full stop. So I've got to start believing.'
It took some doing, though. He was never in contention at the Masters, opening with 74 and shooting a 76 on Saturday. He blew up with a first-round 78 at the U.S. Open, and had an anemic 74 the first day at the British.
'It's just a lot of trying too hard, really, is what I would put it down to,' Donald said Saturday. 'I would say to myself, `I'm not going to press, I'm not going to get upset when I hit bad shots.' And I did. I keep telling myself not to do it, but I did it.
'This week I was determined to have a little bit more fun out there.'
He certainly seems to be having a ball. He was in a four-way tie for the lead with Billy Andrade, Henrik Stenson and Tim Herron after a second straight 68 Friday. But while the other three stood pat (Herron) or fell apart (Andrade and Stenson), Donald kept right on going.
He shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday, and hasn't had a bogey since the first round. Most importantly, he's playing loose and relaxed.
'I felt more comfortable out there today than the first two days with my game,' he said. 'I hit more fairways, more greens and felt pretty much under control. It's always nice when you have that feeling on the golf course.'
Especially when you start the way Donald did.
His shot off the first tee found heavy rough. Though he made a nice punchout, his weak chip shot left him a 10-foot uphill putt just to save par. He made it, though, and took off from there.
He made birdie putts from 20 and 30 feet on the next two holes, and had three more before he made the turn. He picked up only one stroke on the back nine, but it was a biggie.
Woods had moved into the lead with three straight birdies, topping Donald at 14-under. After a bogey -- Woods' first since the first hole of the tournament -- he got back to 14 with a 12-foot putt on the 17th hole.
But Donald matched it. His 6-iron off the tee on the par-3 landed three feet from the cup, and he tapped in to reclaim a share of the lead.
'Playing with Tiger Woods in the last round of a major, especially it being in Chicago where I've been living for the last nine years, that's going to be exciting, something I'm going to be looking forward to,' he said. 'It's quite a thrill.'
It's going to be nerve-racking, too. Woods is 11-0 in majors when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead, including a win at the British Open last month. He won the PGA the last time it was at Medinah Country Club in 1999, and seems to be getting better with every hole he plays.
'His numbers are obviously impressive,' Donald said. 'Saying that, there's a lot of expectations on that. He doesn't want to ruin that record and he'll have people expecting him to win. Maybe I can use that to my advantage and just kind of sneak by without anyone noticing and pick up the trophy.'
A few people would probably notice.
He's had plenty of local support this week. He's greeted with a 'Go Northwestern!' or 'Go Wildcats!' wherever he goes, and there were chants of 'Luuuke! Luuuke!' when he made his birdie on 17.
'It's been fun and it's motivated me, for sure,' Donald said. 'I don't know whether the local support will outweigh Tiger's Army following him. It will be fun, and I'm sure I'll have a lot more support than I would if it were anywhere else.'
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    Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

    IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

    Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

    Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

    Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

    Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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    Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

    By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

    Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

    Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

    And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    “The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

    Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

    Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

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    Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

    Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

    “I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

    Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

    A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

    It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

    There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

    Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

    The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

    Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

    “I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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    Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

    By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

    In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

    Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

    With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

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    "Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

    So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

    "I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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    Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

    Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

    On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

    And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

    "I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

    "I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

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    Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

    He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

    Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

    With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

    But he isn't celebrating just yet.

    "It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

    "So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."