Daily Wrap-up: Round 3, The Heritage

April 23, 2011
Staff and wire reports

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Luke Donald is a round away from owning golf's No. 1 ranking after a 1-under 70 on Saturday left him one-stroke in front of defending champion Jim Furyk through three rounds of The Heritage.

As Stan Awtrey writes, Jim Furyk has a chance to make a pretty good argument that he's the best player in golf should he won Sunday. Column

Donald, who could also climb to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings with a victory, overcame a double bogey and bogey on the front nine to catch Furyk with birdie on the 16th hole. The Englishman finished 11-under 202.

Furyk held the lead for much of his back nine at Harbour Town Golf Links, but made bogey on the closing lighthouse hole for a 69 to drop back.

Brendan de Jonge (66) and Scott Verplank (67) are two shots behind at 9-under. Masters runner-up Jason Day (71), Ricky Barnes (67) and Tommy Gainey (67) are a stroke further back at 8-under.

Donald is third in the world behind top-rated Martin Kaymer and No. 2 Lee Westwood. But Donald would claim the top spot with a victory at Harbour Town, no matter how countryman Westwood fares at the Indonesian Masters where he holds a five-stroke lead.

Kaymer is not playing this week.

Donald and Westwood exchanged "Good luck" messages on Twitter before their third rounds.

"I think I have an opportunity to go out there and win and if I do, I know what happens," Donald said. "It's just friendly banter."

Donald has finished second and third here the past two years, yet it appeared the talk of No. 1 may have finally gotten to him on the second hole. Donald put his approach shot to the par-5 hole out of bounds left, leading to a double bogey and giving up the lead.

But Donald, who won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, called on the steady, focused style that made him one of the world's best to move back to the top with birdies on the fifth and seventh holes.

Donald's put his approach on the 16th hole to 3 feet for his final birdie to reach 11-under.

Donald credited solid par saves on the third and fourth holes for regaining his resolve. "Those up-and-downs and keeping some momentum going where I wasn't going completely backwards was big for me," he said

Shot of the Day

Webb Simpson holes out from 116 yards on the par-4 ninth hole.

Furyk had his chance to hold on to a share of the lead, but sent his second shot on the 18th hole into a bunker behind the green, and could not make the 16-footer for par after blasting out.

Furyk and Donald will be paired in Sunday's final group for what sets up as a fabulous finish.

No matter the order, Donald and Furyk have had some memorable duels on the golf course.

Furyk saved par from the bunker on the 72nd hole of last year's TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola to beat Donald by a stroke and win the $10 million PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. A week later, Donald beat Furyk 1-up in Ryder Cup singles to help bring Europe to victory.

Both have become Harbour Town masters, combining for 14 rounds in the 60s over the past three tournaments.

About the leader
• Luke Donald has carried the lead into the final round on the PGA TOUR six previous times, with his only win coming at the 2006 Honda Classic. He also led after 54 holes at the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic, and was later declared the winner without playing the final round due to inclement weather.
• In his last two starts at Harbour Town, Donald finished T2 (2009) and T3 (2010). He missed the cut here in 2002 and 2004 and finished T69 in 2003.
• Donald has four top-10s in five previous starts on TOUR this season, with his only missed cut coming in his first start of the season at the Northern Trust Open. In his last eight starts, he has four top-5 finishes and six top-10s.
• Donald goes to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings with a win, even if Lee Westwood wins in Indonesia this week. Martin Kaymer, who is not playing this week, will remain No. 1 if Donald or Westwood do not win.
• Donald has a TOUR-leading 12 consecutive rounds at par or better.
• Coming into the week, Donald led the TOUR in scoring average at 69.28 and putting average (1.703).

"I think I'm there, I'm in position and when I play well I feel like this golf course really suits my game," Furyk said.