Donald leads by one over FurykHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Luke Donald bounced back from a double-bogey on his second hole in the third round of The Heritage and posted a 1 under 70 to get to 11 under 202 overall to take a one-shot lead over defending champion Jim Furyk, his playing partner for the final round. The wind, which had not been a factor during the first two rounds, kicked up a bit on Saturday and made the Harbour Town Golf Links more of a challenge, especially when combined with extremely firm greens.
Donald followed up his double with birdies at Nos. 5, 7, and 9 and a bogey at 8 to make the turn at even par. Eights pars and a lone birdie at 16 on the homeward nine left him with a one-stroke cushion. The cushion was compliments of Furyk, who couldn’t get up and down at the last and carded a bogey. He finished with a 69.
“Obviously got off to a pretty slow start, making seven on two,” Donald said. “I'm giving up two or three shots on that hole to the field. It wasn't really a terrible shot, just pulled it slightly, got a kick and that ball stays a couple of yards inbounds and it's an easy up-and-down for birdie.”
But, he found the wrong side of the out-of-bounds stakes and had to settle for the double-bogey. He didn’t let that start rattle him, though.
“I dug deep,” he said. “Made some good birdies. It was tougher today, the wind was more of a factor, the greens are getting firmer and crustier. And I was pleased with bringing it back after that slow start.”
Brendan de Jonge (66) and Scott Verplank (67) share third at 9 under, Ricky Barnes (67), Tommy Gainey (67) and Jason Day (71) are another shot back, while Pat Perez (68), Jason Dufner (68), Chris Couch (70) and Ben Crane (71) round out the top-10 and trail by four.
Of all the players in contention, the most surprising is Verplank.
Verplank, who has battled with numerous injuries and surgeries throughout his career, was at a point eight weeks ago where he wasn’t sure he could play. His left wrist was so painful and he had no options, in that, no one wanted to perform surgery to repair what is described in layman’s terms as a degenerative bone issue. He’s done more MRIs than he cared to, including an arthrograph MRI that shoots dye into the afflicted area to help doctors see what is going on.
The tissue in the wrist is good, but the bone doesn’t look very good. The bone issue has caused a sapping of strength and thus, he can’t work with weights as he had in the past for building the strength.
“My problem so far is I haven't been able to find anybody that wants to operate on it because nobody ever had to do that to a guy that needs it to work, for sure,” Verplank said in discussing the problem earlier this month in Houston.
“So right now it's like I'm not hurting myself. They just said it's how much you can put up with.”
Anyone that knows Verplank, knows he can put up with a lot more than the average tour player, more than the average athlete in any field.
“I'm really pretty lucky or feel pretty pleased to be here, really,” added Verplank. “Eight weeks ago I couldn't have played. I tried to play a couple of tournaments, actually this is four out of five weeks; that's a lot. I'm going to have a lot less golf here in the next month or three weeks. But pretty good today. I hope I wake up tomorrow and I'm not having to work too hard to feel like I have some confidence in my grip.”
And therein lies his biggest problem – getting a grip on his clubs, including his putter. If he can do it without pain, he could feel like the luckiest man in the world at the end of the day.
Return to Latest News archives