Friday, December 15, 2017
Golf

Luke Donald, Branden Grace tied for first-round lead at RBC Heritage

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Missing the Masters made Luke Donald's blood boil. The former world No. 1 channeled that anger to shoot his best round since January, a 5-under 66 at the RBC Heritage that left the Englishman tied with Branden Grace for the first-round lead Thursday.

The two were a stroke ahead of four players, including top-ranked Jason Day.

Day caught Donald and Grace at the top heading to Harbour Town Golf Links' closing, lighthouse hole. But he took an unplayable lie in a bunker when his ball bored into the sand and made his lone bogey to fall back.

Donald had been a major tournament mainstay since first playing Augusta National in 2005. However, he has fallen badly the past couple of seasons (he's 95th in the world ranking) and saw the Masters from home.

Donald shared his frustration on social media, posting on Instagram that not playing the major "quite frankly, it makes my blood boil."

So Donald, 38, turned things around at one of his favorite layouts in Harbour Town Golf Links, posting his best score in three months since consecutive 65s at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Most of the Masters' main characters took the week off, including new dad and major champion Danny Willett of England and Jordan Speith, whose unexpected collapse over the final nine holes opened the door for Willett. Day, who tied for 10th at Augusta National, is the lone top-10 player competing.

Day acknowledged his energy level after last week was low. "But you just have to suck it up and get through the week," he said.

Grace held the lead at 6 under after his birdie on the 15th. However, the South African missed an 8-foot par putt on the 16th to drop back into a tie.

Jason Bohn, the 42-year-old two-time PGA Tour winner, returned to the game after his heart attack nearly two months ago at the Honda Classic and shot 74. He was regularly greeted by well-wishers.

While frustrated with his play, Bohn believed he achieved what he wanted — a return to normalcy after a frightening health scare.

"The golf wasn't so joyous. If I could've gone out and shot a couple under par, it would've been a lot better," he said. "But this was a big round for me psychologically, just to know I could get back to competition. I could work my body as hard as I want to compete."

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