Friday, January 19, 2018
Golf

Luke Donald takes lead into final round at Hilton Head

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — For Luke Donald, it's another chance to end his hard-luck history at Harbour Town Golf Links. For Jason Day, it's a rare round to forget for the world's No. 1 player.

While Donald took the lead Saturday at the RBC Heritage with 2-under 69, Day — tied atop the leaderboard entering the round — had a season-worst 79 to fall nine shots behind.

"It's obviously not the way I wanted to play," said Day, winner of two of his past three PGA Tour events.

It was exactly what Donald wanted at one of his most successful courses. He has mastered the swirling wind, tight fairways and small greens better than just about anyone since 2009 with five top-three finishes over that span. The only thing he hasn't accomplished? Victory.

He has learned from those close calls that he can't sit back today and allow others — such as winners Brandt Snedeker did in 2011 or Matt Kuchar did in 2014 — to zoom past him as he pars his way home.

"I can't sit back on my heels," the Englishman said.

Donald is 7-under 206 through 54 holes, a stroke in front of Jason Kokrak and Charley Hoffman. Kokrak shot 68, Hoffman had 71. Patton Kizzire shot 71 and was another shot behind in fourth. Zach Johnson, after shooting 70, was among three at 4 under.

Donald was a stroke behind when the round started and quickly moved up with three birdies on his first eight holes to reach 8 under. He bogeyed the 13th and trailed Hoffman by a shot. But Donald steadied his game with five straight pars over the windy back nine to get himself on top once more.

Day's round went bad right from the start.

Playing in the final group, Day came up short of the first green and made bogey. Two holes later he drove into water after hitting some trees way right of the third fairway for double-bogey 6. The wheels came off for good during an awful stretch around the turn — Day made five bogeys in a six-hole span.

His 79 was his highest round of the year and his worst showing in 63 rounds since an 81 last year in the second round of the Players Championship.

CHAMPIONS: Wes Short shot 5-under 67 at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic to take a lead into the final round for the first time in his 242 tour-sanctioned tournaments. Short was at 7-under 137, one ahead of Colin Montgomerie (66), Todd Hamilton (69) and Mark O'Meara (70). Tom Watson, tied for the first-round lead at 68, fell back with two early double bogeys and finished with 76 to fall seven shots behind Short.

LPGA: Minjee Lee won the Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii, for her second tour title, closing with 8-under 64 for a one-stroke victory. The 19-year-old Australian finished at 16-under 272. Third-round leader Katie Burnett (70) and In Gee Chun (67) tied for second.

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