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Masters: Luke Donald downbeat after Saturday struggle

Luke Donald counted himself out of The Masters after a disappointing third round 75 at Augusta today - and it could well cost him the world number one spot as well.

After the thrill of pitching in for an eagle two on the third and thinking he could climb back into contention, Donald wrote off his chance after going in Rae's Creek on the 13th and running up his second seven of the week.

"There's nothing worse than waking up on a Sunday and whatever you do is not going to be good enough," the 34-year-old said as he dropped outside the top 50 on seven over par, 12 adrift of leaders Jason Dufner and 52-year-old Fred Couples, who were still to tee off again.

Even if Donald climbs around 10 places in the final round, Rory McIlroy, one off the lead at halfway, would only need to finish 20th to take back the number one spot.

There was also the possibility of Lee Westwood regaining the position he last held last May, before Donald beat him in a play-off for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

He needed to win his first major title to have a chance of leapfrogging over Donald and McIlroy, but he was alongside the Northern Irishman on four under when he resumed.

As for Tiger Woods, he started brightly like Donald, but then faded badly as well.

The four-time champion, completely off form in his second-round 75, birdied the third and fourth, but had returned to three over by the turn and remained that way with three to play.

Amazingly, he had managed only one birdie on the par fives all week - one out of 12 attempts, that is - and on the 13th did well to make his five after hooking his drive into the creek.

It was Donald's second shot that found the water there.

"I thought I hit a decent shot," Donald said of his three-iron, "but it missed carrying by two inches."

After a penalty drop he skimmed his pitch over the green and three-putted - as he did on the 14th. Missed putts of six feet on the 16th and 18th just piled on the agony.

"I had high hopes for this week," he added. "I will think about my build-up, but I felt ready. At least I won some crystal for the eagle, that's about the only high."

As Donald reflected on things, Justin Rose made the first big move onto the leaderboard, a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth taking him to three under and joint eighth.

Close friend Ian Poulter was only one shot further back. In an eventful start he picked up shots at the second and third, bogeyed the next two, but then had back-to-back birdies.

Padraig Harrington, though, had slipped back to one over after eight and Graeme McDowell took six on the 13th as he went from three to four over.

Scot Martin Laird was six over with two to play and England's Ross Fisher five over after 17. That included five birdies, but also four bogeys and a double-bogey on the 11th.

As Woods finished with a 72 to remain three over - he parred every hole on the back nine - McIlroy kicked off just as he did on Thursday. With a double bogey.

From joint third he instantly fell into a tie for 11th, as did Scot Paul Lawrie by taking six on the second.

Phil Mickelson parred the first five holes to remain two under, but had produced a remarkable escape on the second after driving into the creek and taking a penalty drop.

Leaderboard

5 under - Fred Couples (after 36 holes)

Jason Dufner (36)

4 under - Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) (37)

Lee Westwood (Eng) (37)

3 under - Justin Rose (Eng) (47)

Aaron Baddeley (Aus) (41)

Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) (38)

Matt Kuchar (38)

Bubba Watson (38)

Sergio Garcia (Spa) (37)

2 under - Jim Furyk (44)

Jonathan Byrd (43)

Sean O'Hair (43)

Henrik Stenson (Swe) (42)

Nick Watney (42)

Peter Hanson (Swe) (41)

Charles Howell III (40)

Phil Mickelson (40)

Paul Lawrie (Sco) (38)

Rory McIlroy (NIrl) (37)

Belfast Telegraph

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