Luke Donald is bidding to become the first Englishman to win the U.S. Open since 1970. (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- He used three words instead of just one, as the reporter had asked. But "up and down" was certainly an apt description of the 72 Luke Donald shot in the second round of the U.S. Open on Friday.
Donald made more bogeys than he did pars or birdies as Merion grew increasingly difficult in the second round. But when he signed his scorecard, the Englishman was even par for the first 36 holes and just three strokes off the lead -- with just two players ahead of him.
"I would love to be a couple better, but certainly I think come the end of round two, I'm going to be in a good place," Donald said.
Donald had to come back to Merion at 7:15 Friday morning to complete the first round. For much of the morning he was leading until he made bogeys on two of his last three holes to finish with a 68 that left him one stroke behind Phil Mickelson.
Donald had just over an hour between when he finished the first round and teed off in the second. He started on the 11th hole and got back to 4 under for the tournament with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 but Donald was undone by a front-nine stretch that saw him bogey both par 5s, as well as three other holes.
"But you try not to panic in U.S. Opens; you try to take each hole as it comes," he said. "It was nice to make a birdie on 9."
Donald is encouraged by the nine birdies he's made over the first two rounds -- a stat that leads the field. Five of those have come on the par 3s but Donald is 2 over on the par 5s this week.
The former world No. 1 said Merion's greens are still very soft but the pin positions are definitely tougher than they were in the first round. Donald has managed to keep the ball in the fairway, hitting all but six over the first two rounds, and 22 of 36 greens in regulation. A total of 56 putts doesn't hurt, either.
"I think Merion is holding its own, for sure," Donald said. "I just feel like when you have wet conditions, the fairways become that much wider, the greens become wider, too. I just think it's going to help someone a little bit more because it's wet. But obviously the scoring probably is not showing that right now, but we'll have to see come the weekend."
Donald has yet to post a top-10 in a U.S. Open. He's contending now, though, and he could become the first Englishman to win the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970 at Hazeltine National.
"I'm excited to be in contention, and have a chance," Donald said. "Obviously I haven't played very well, but when I saw this place last week, I thought it was a good fit for my game. And obviously it's nice to come here and feel like I'm swinging pretty well and I've got a chance.
"So hopefully I can throw a good one in tomorrow and really be in the mix come Sunday."