Printer Friendly

GOLF: THE OPEN 2005: HE LUKES LIKE A CHAMP SAYS JACK; 1st day action from the 134th Championship, St Andrews Donald impresses Nicklaus.

Byline: Neil McLeman

IN his first five Opens, Luke Donald was all at sixes and sevens in missing every cut.

But yesterday, playing in the company of legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, his sharper card was only threes and fours as Britain's top player led the home challenge with a solid 68 to sit just two shots off the lead.

It was the Ryder Cup star's first sub-70 round in his home Major as he avoided every bunker - and was enough for Nicklaus to anoint him as a future champion.

"I know Luke is capable of winning it and I know he is going to win Majors," said the Golden Bear after carding a three-over 75 in his final Open.

"It is not a question of if but when. He's a very, very nice player. He putted brilliantly today. He has got a wonderful short game to go with a very solid long game.

"It's not spectacular but he plays solidly and puts the ball in the right places. He is a very smart player. He is going to win a lot of tournaments."

And the 55-year-old Watson, winner of eight Majors, reckoned he could learn something from his younger partner.

"Luke played a very good round of golf," he said after his 75. "I'm trying to learn something about that putting stroke. Boy, he putted beautifully out there today." But Donald, 27, admitted he was left to feel the apprentice to the two old masters after the opening hole.

"Jack hits it short of the pin, and the pin is tucked by the burn there," said Donald.

"Tom makes a birdie putt from 10 feet and then Jack followed him in. After the first hole I thought: 'I hope I don't get beat too badly!'

"But the whole day is hard to put into words. It was a treat - real fun. It was a real honour to play with two such great players. There was a great atmosphere out there."

It was a very different experience from Donald's last two Opens. At Sandwich in 2003, he was overawed by his playing partner Tiger Woods and limped away before the weekend after rounds of 76 and 79.

And last year, accompanying Ernie Els, he could manage no better than 75-71. But since then Donald has won the Ryder Cup, the World Cup and risen to become the 15th best player on the planet.

"I don't think there could have been any more distracting groups than the one I was in so I'm proud of the way I handled it," said the Hemel Hempstead-born player.

"Even though it's distracting, it's a great group for me. Playing with those two, it was a little bit less competitive than maybe playing with a Tiger or an Ernie or something like that.

"I don't really watch the players I'm playing with but you're definitely aware of how they're playing."

Donald revealed a change in tactics had also helped him.

"In the past I have gotten a little too caught up in trying to adapt my game too much to links style," he explained.

"I was trying to play the chip-and-run and the long putt off the green when I'm really used to just playing a normal chip shot.

"I think it's just playing to my own strengths and not changing my game too much that really helped me today."

Donald joined a logjam on four under par - and knows there is still a long way to go.

"It was just a solid start - nothing more than that," he said. "If the wind stays like this, if I shot another three 68s, I might be close."

Nicklaus warned he will find it difficult to control his emotions during his final round in a Major today.

"I could turn into a babbling idiot," confessed the 65-year-old. "If I wasn't prepared I wouldn't be here."

CAPTION(S):

LOOKING GOOD: Luke Donald was on the ball yesterday Pictures: BRADLEY ORMESHER; CHEERLEADER: Nicklaus applauds Watson at the 18th
COPYRIGHT 2005 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2005
Words:670
Previous Article:GOLF: THE OPEN 2005: Web feat short-lived.
Next Article:GOLF: THE OPEN 2005: COL HAPPY TO GET A WIGGING.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters