Donald is No. 1, but not when it comes to US Open
The top-ranked player in the world didn’t make a birdie.
Wait. It gets worse.
Luke Donald couldn’t beat a 14-year-old.
”I tried to stay patient, tried to stay positive. But when I
had those opportunities on the greens I couldn’t take them,” the
Englishman said after shooting 9-over 79 on Thursday in the opening
round of the U.S. Open.
That number that left him tied with teen sensation Andy Zhang,
the amateur who at least showed a flair for the big stage by
managing to birdie his final hole. Donald likewise had an 18-footer
at No. 18 to salvage his birdie-less round, but never threatened
”My putter kind of went cold today, otherwise I could have
probably ground out some more respectable score. But this place is
tough,” Donald said. ”I feel like even from yesterday, it got a
lot tougher and I didn’t hit the shots when I needed to.”
Unfortunately, neither of Donald’s partners were much better and
every golfer knows how bad play spreads like a cold. No. 2 Rory
McIlroy skidded to a 77 and third-ranked Lee Westwood, who
recovered somewhat back nine, returned a 73.
”The top three in the world and we make three (birdies) between
us,” Donald said. ”It shows how tough it is.”
Still, it was Donald who played as if he was fighting a flu bug.
For a short hitter whose game places a premium on accuracy, he hit
just six of 14 fairways and half the greens, a tough way to post a
score. The strange thing is that Donald came to The Olympic Club in
good form, having won his second title of the season three weeks
ago. And only last year, the 34-year-old pulled off the
unprecedented feat of topping the money lists on both the PGA and
But those accomplishments provide a sharp contrast to his record
in the tournaments that matter most, especially the U.S. Open.
Donald has managed a tie for fifth or better at the Masters,
British Open and PGA Championship. But in eight previous U.S.
Opens, his best finish is a tie for 12th; twice before, he failed
to reach the weekend.
”The U.S. Open, the margins are that much smaller and if you’re
just a little bit off, which I was today, it’s tough,” Donald
said. ”And then you have to really rely on chipping it close and
making some putts and I didn’t do that.”
To say the crown sits uneasy on his head is hardly an
understatement. In other sports, the No. 1 ranking either gets you
a bye in the opening round or a top seed. In golf, it only
”The slight distraction, which is less so for me because I kind
of go under the radar, is that there’s a little bit more
attention,” he conceded earlier in the week. ”A little more
One more round like his first and at least Donald won’t have to
worry about that.