Manassero, Donald share lead at BMW PGALuke Donald and Matteo Manassero continue to share the lead at the BMW PGA Championship after a day of high drama at Wentworth Club.
The Englishman, bidding to overtake Lee Westwood as World Number One, was six shots behind the Italian 18 year old after just six holes of the third round, but fought back magnificently to draw level.
Both players carded a one over par 72, although their rounds could hardly have been more different in many ways.
Donald - such a model of consistency in recent months – admitted he felt “a bit like Seve” after a host of wayward shots ended up in the trees.
But four birdies on the back nine pulled him back into contention and, after another wayward drive into the forest at the last, hacked out, found the green in four, and sunk a 20 footer for par.
Teenage sensation Manassero faces the biggest test of his young sporting life, and admits trying to fend off the top two players in the world will be a difficult challenge.
But the two English stars are fully aware of what a talent Manassero, who mixed three bogeys and two birdies, is.
Thirteenth in The Open Championship at the age of 16 and the youngest-ever player to make the cut in the Masters Tournament last year, he has already won twice on The European Tour in just over 12 months as a professional.
A third victory now would make him the youngest winner of the flagship event, take his earnings through the two million euro mark - and, unbelievably, could take him as high as 15th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
"I am certainly not as strong mentally as them (Donald and Westwood) because they more experienced and everything, but I will try to fight,” he said.
"Really I don't think it's going to be a mental battle. It's going to be the guy who plays and putts better."
Westwood commented: "Irritatingly young, isn't he? I've been on Tour longer than he's been on Earth - but he's very good."
Westwood, who will relinquish the World Number One position if Donald finishes ahead of him, launched a staunch defence with a two under 69 that left him right in the hunt for a third win in five weeks.
At three under the Englishman is only two behind, alongside Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti.
Zanotti produced a Championship record seven consecutive threes from the eighth, and said: “It was a tough day. “I was hitting good the ball and I was four over, so I was pretty calm I think. I started making some putts and then the round started getting better and better and here I go.”
As for Spain's Alvaro Quiros, who led at halfway with Donald and Manassero, he took seven on the ninth and eight at the 17th in a 76 that left him with four shots to make up.
Donald's troubles started with a double bogey on the short second, where he missed the green long and left and then chipped off the front and down the slope.
Another shot went on the next and at the sixth a drive deep into the trees cost him another double bogey.
He was in danger of going from "invincible" - how he felt during Thursday's 64 - to invisible at that point, but birdies at the 11th and 12th brought him back into it and then a 30 footer on the 16th left him only one behind.
Westwood talked before the event about lurking and then coming through strongly and so far it has kept to his script.
Eight adrift of Donald when he opened with a 72, he moved up to 12th with a second round 69 and by adding another he is right in the thick of things going into the final day.
"I have by no means flushed it or ripped it this week," he said.
"I am edging my way into the week and hopefully tomorrow I will play special because that's what I think I will need to win.
"It was a good 69. You've got to be on your game - it's a tough examination."
Donald said he might call his Chicago-based coach Pat Goss after his error-strewn display.
"He might have seen something and a little key could make a big difference," he said.
"I didn't have much control of the ball, but I dug deep and I'm very proud of the way I came back.
"I am going to have to play better than that for sure. I felt somewhat like Seve (Ballesteros) - in the trees, leaves on my back, dropping the ball, escaping from everywhere.
"It would have been very easy to keep the head down and shoot myself out of the tournament, but I don't like to do that and it was a great fightback."
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