Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Donaldson battles conditions to set pace

Jamie Donaldson is figuring high on the USPGA Championship leaderboard

Welshman Jamie Donaldson battled through strong winds to post one of the best early halfway totals in the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island on Friday.

Donaldson, who had a one over par 73, had opened with a 69, but with a two under aggregate he had to wait to see if conditions eased and gave the later starters - overnight leader Carl Pettersson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods included - a massive advantage.

Of those out in the morning only two were faring better. Fijian Vijay Singh, at 49 trying to become the oldest winner of a major in history, stood four under with two to play and little-known American Blake Adams was three under after 11 holes.

The 36-year-old Donaldson birdied the first and sixth, but hit his second shot into a thick patch of rough on the 579-yard seventh and needed three hacks at it to get out. A double bogey seven was the end result, but he hit straight back with a 35-foot birdie putt before coming home in a two over 38 with three bogeys and a birdie in the final five holes.

Many others were going backwards - and they included Graeme McDowell, world number one Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Padraig Harrington. McDowell had started with a fine 68, but he managed only 39 for the back nine with bogeys at the 13th, 14th and 17th, where he could not get up and down from just over the green.

The 2010 US Open champion did, however, birdie the long second and was two under alongside Donaldson. Harrington, needing a big week to boost his Ryder Cup hopes, let shots go on the 13th and 14th, birdied the next, but then had further bogeys at the third and fourth to stand one over.

Rose was another to turn in 39 and that put him level par, while Donald was already in a battle to survive the halfway cut when he set off at two over and instantly double-bogeyed the 447-yard 10th.

The world number one did birdie the 16th and 18th, but there was a bogey in between and with three to go he was three over. Paul Lawrie, close to securing a Ryder Cup return after 13 years, was paired with Rose and he was two over after 11 holes.

Singh set the early target, a brilliant 69 leaving him four under for the first two rounds. In the clubhouse he led by two from Donaldson and Adams, but on the course Pettersson resumed with a bogey five on the 10th and the lead was taken instead by big-hitting American Gary Woodland when he birdied the long second.

McIlroy remained one behind after three opening pars, while Harrington managed only a 76 to be two over and Donald looked almost certain to miss the cut after also shooting 76 for six over. McDowell finished with the same score to be level par and Lawrie was only one further back but Rose had fallen back to three over.

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