HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - Luke Donald believes he’s got the right game on the right course - and is ready to make up for so many near-misses at the RBC Heritage.
Donald had an eagle and six birdies to shoot 66 on Saturday and take a two-stroke lead over John Huh after three rounds at Harbour Town Golf Links. The Englishman has done just about everything on Harbour Town the past five times he’s played - except win.
He fell in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker here in 2011, part of a run of four top-3 finishes since at the tricky, Pete Dye design. Now, he’ll carry the lead into the final day and is ready to make it stand up on Sunday.
“If I can go out as relaxed and confident as I was today tomorrow,” he said. “If I can control the trajectory (of shots) as well as I did today, then hopefully I’ll be sitting here as the winner.”
It has been a long time since Donald has been able to say that.
Once the world’s top-ranked golfer, Donald has changed coaches and the transition back to the top has not come as quickly as planned. The last of his five PGA Tour wins came in 2012, his best showing this year was a tie for fourth at the Valspar Championship last month and he was quickly bounced at the Masters after shooting 79-70.
Donald acknowledged he has grown anxious waiting to win again.
“I was the former world No. 1 and was there for a long time and obviously slipped down,” said Donald, currently 29th. “But I haven’t felt my game had gotten that much worse.”
Certainly not at Harbour Town.
Donald’s round got started with a 25-footer for eagle on the par-5 second hold. He added four more on the next six holes. Donald then tied leader Nicholas Thompson with a birdie on the 14th before stretching his lead with a final one by rolling in a 15-foot putt on the par-3 17th.
Donald nearly closed with a flourish when his approach on the closing, lighthouse hole nearly landed in the cup on the fly before bouncing to the edge and settling for par.
Donald’s not the longest hitter on tour and said some layouts are dragons he can’t slay.
“But this one I feel like I can plot my way around with low wedges,” he said. “If you miss greens, you need to be pretty good at the short game. Certainly a course that favors my style of play.”
Huh shot a 68 and was at 6 under.
Major champions Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jim Furyk (71), Nicholas Thompson (68) and Ben Martin (71) were tied for third at 5 under.