Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gloomy Day for Many but Donald Lights Up US Open with Late Flurry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gloomy Day for Many but Donald Lights Up US Open with Late Flurry

Article excerpt

Byline: Kevin Garside at Merion

ALMOST imperceptibly Luke Donald stole into the Philadelphia night with the lead at the US Open. On a storm-interrupted day, when Phil Mickelson's clubhouse lead and Tiger Woods's struggles in the gloaming attracted all the attention, Donald did what he does best, accumulated quietly in the shadows.

When play resumed at 7pm last night following the day's second delay, Donald was two strokes off Mickelson's three-under-par total playing the seventh. But a hat-trick of birdies from the 11th as darkness closed in took him one clear of the field. Play was finally called off at 8.23pm leaving Donald with five holes of his opening round to complete today.

The US Open, with the emphasis on precision over power, was always thought to represent Donald's best chance of landing his maiden Major. The heavy rains that softened Merion in the build-up were supplemented with a fresh storm on the opening morning, forcing the players off the course for three and a half hours.

In theory this was an invitation to take the course apart. But clever pin placements tucked away on most greens kept the plunder in check and anything remotely off line was swallowed whole by an avaricious rough.

Just ask Tiger Woods, who, when play stopped, had a three-footer at the 11th to remain two over par.

Rory McIlroy opted to putt out for par and missed to fall back to level par. "Disappointed to three-putt at the end," McIlroy said. "I was just trying to get the hole done, but over all pretty happy with the way I played."

The third member of the marque group, Adam Scott, closed on three under. The day ended with 78 players still to finish their opening rounds. Donald will play 23 holes today before Mickelson resumes his challenge.

Nothing is won yet. Donald started today with the toughest five holes on the course still to negotiate but was rightly excited at what might be. …

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