JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – They’re one and two in the world yet just hanging on at the PGA Championship.
No. 1 Luke Donald and No. 2 Lee Westwood are both tied at 1-under par, tied for 13th place and six strokes behind co-leaders Brendan Steele and Jason Dufner after three rounds at Atlanta Athletic Club. The Ryder Cup partners each had their chances to make up ground in the year’s final major, but couldn’t.
Donald had a bogey on the 16th hole, then a disastrous double bogey on No. 18 after putting his approach in the water to turn an extra special third round into a so-so 68.
Westwood got himself to 3 under on the 10th hole, but had a double bogey on the 14th and couldn’t come any closer to end with a 70 and also at 1 under.
The English duo hoped to cap stellar seasons at the top with their first major title. But they’ll likely need their own record-setting performances plus the collapse of about a dozen players ahead of them to pull it off.
Still, Westwood was hopeful of a Sunday surprise.
“A major championship will be a lot more pressure, but I think 1 under is by no means out of it,” he said.
Both Donald and Westwood known they could’ve been much closer.
Donald, No. 1 for the past 11 weeks, was moving up the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes that took him to 4 under. He thought “maybe I could even grab an extra birdie, get to 5 under, who knows, that could be leading at the end of the day,” Donald said.
Instead, he made bogey on the 16th, then put his approach shot to No. 18 into the water in front of the green and made double bogey. “I am angry,” Donald said in his mild-mannered style. “Had something really good going there, and kind of threw it away.”
Westwood had similar regrets about his putting. He said he missed several opportunities to make a move. “Just hit it great all day and close and made nothing,” he said.
There were mis-reads, mis-hits and good looking putts that didn’t do what Westwood expected. All of it led to squandered opportunities at a major just begging for a big name to take control.
Westwood wasn’t sure how to fix things. “Different religion, maybe?” he joked.
Then again, Westwood said he’s struggled with his putting most of the season. He’s put in the work to improve and hopes to see the results soon. “I’d like to think they are going to drop tomorrow, but they have dropped all year so why should they change?”
Donald and Westwood have had similar major championship seasons.
The two were both in contention at the Masters, Donald finishing fourth and Westwood 11th. Two months later, Westwood tied for third at the U.S. Open behind winner Rory McIlroy. Donald was around on Sunday but well back in 45th.
Donald and Westwood had high hopes entering the British Open at Royal St. George’s last month and both stunningly missed the cut. “I’ve got to figure out a way to contend a bit more” at majors, Donald said then.
Donald and Westwood counted on even more than contending at Atlanta Athletic Club, they expected to win. Instead, they’re behind several players at the PGA ranked far below them like Dufner (No. 80), John Senden (No. 92), D.A. Points (No. 105), Keegan Bradley (No. 108) and Steele (No. 121.).
Donald was asked if he might want to punch someone after his late falter. He did. Himself. “I might punish myself in the gym,” he said.