x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Donald swings back to state of 'nervous excitement'

The world No 1 adjusts tee shot error in time with the help of his coach to ease off some pressure of Rory McIlroy on his back.

Luke Donald recovered from an erroneous first shot to finish the day with three birdies in a row.
Luke Donald recovered from an erroneous first shot to finish the day with three birdies in a row.

DUBAI // Luke Donald will tee off this morning amid "nervous excitement" after a string of late birdies yesterday brought him closer to becoming the first golfer to win the European Tour and PGA Tour money titles.

The top-ranked Englishman, who was tied for 26th after a disappointing opening round of even par on Thursday, will begin the third round on four under par and tied for 12th.

He needs to finish in the top nine to ensure he stays atop the European money list. He clinched the American money title in October.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of the next two days," Donald said. "It's nervous excitement."

Donald hopes to continue this morning where he left off yesterday afternoon, when he rattled off birdies on the last three holes to card a 68.

The most impressive was on the 18th. His drive landed in a pile of wood chips in the rough, but his 200-yard approach shot landed on the green. He then sank a 12-footer for birdie.

"To make three birdies in a row will … hopefully make the next two days a little easier," he said.

He has finished outside the top 10 on the European Tour only three times this season.

"It was certainly a lot of pressure out there," Donald said. "It's just that I've got to handle it. I'm making a little bit too many unforced errors and I need to play the weekend like Luke Donald knows how to play."

Donald started the second round poorly, bogeying the first, but he recovered with two birdies in a row. He had nine pars, a birdie and a bogey over the next 11 holes as he had trouble keeping his drives on the fairway.

"It was a struggle," Donald said. "I've been making a few uncharacteristic mistakes. Not sure what that is down to, maybe just the situation and what is at stake."

An errant driver cost him several times in the opening round, but he felt he remedied the situation yesterday after a tip from his coach, Pat Goss.

"Pat looked at the television coverage and it looked like for some of those tee shots I was getting a bit rushed, a little bit hurried starting the swing with my legs," Donald said.

"I just worked on that and for the most part kept it out of the scrub today [yesterday]."

* With agency