Luke Donald melts down on Merion front nine

DAN GELSTON
Last updated 16:17 15/06/2013
Luke Donald
Getty Images
PUTTER STRUGGLES: Luke Donald made five bogeys on the front nine in his second round.

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Luke Donald holed out a chip for birdie on the short par-3 13th to reach 4 under and top the leaderboard in the US Open.

Not for long as h e bogeyed holes 4 through 7. Donald was at 4-under on day one before play was suspended, and finished with a 2-under 68. After struggling early in his second round he had birdies at 9, 12 and 13 to post a 72 in the second round to leave him even par for the tournament.

"The greens have been tricky to read all week," he said. "They seem to be breaking a little bit more than I'm seeing, hence a couple of lip outs. But you try not to panic in US Opens."

Donald, playing in his 10th US Open, has never won a major. The former world No 1 played a pair of practice rounds last week at Merion to get used to the course. He even posed for a photo with David Graham, winner of the 1981 US Open at Merion.

"I asked him, 'What's the secret?"' Donald said. "And he said, 'Keep it in the short stuff.' Most of us know that and it's all about doing it."

The 35-year-old Donald failed to make the cut last year in the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco because of putting failures. He has never finished better than 12th in an Open (2006) and missed the cut three times since his 2002 debut. He was 45th in 2011 and 47th in 2010.

Donald and Lee Westwood are the only players to be No 1 without having won a major.

He's glad to at least be in the hunt this year.

"I haven't played very well, but when I saw this place last week, I thought it was a good fit for my game," he said. "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."

DOUBLE DIP

Carl Pettersson saw double on No 5.

Pettersson had to check his backswing after an errant shot from No 2 rolled his way and smacked his ball off its spot. Pettersson stopped his swing and backed off the ball, chuckling at the truly bizarre shot.

The wayward ball came from Brandon Crick. He had to hit from where the ball landed.

Pettersson placed the ball at its original spot. He probably wished his ball was whacked into the cup - he had a bogey on the par-5 hole.

"Luckily, I wasn't in my downswing, because if I would have missed the ball, it would have been, I don't know what the ruling would have been on that," he said. "But it might not have been good. I regripped and hit a decent shot after that."

LAWRIE HONOUR 

Paul Lawrie fought back with a 71 and feared he would miss the cut. The day wasn't a total loss. Hours later, the former British Open champion was among those selected for the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

More that his performance on the course, the Scot was recognised for his foundation that helps pay for kids to get into sport. It started with golf and now includes football, rugby and some tennis.

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"I wanted to do it before I won the Open, but I didn't think I was a big enough name and didn't think sponsors would be interested or the kids would want to participate in the events," Lawrie said. "All of a sudden, I win the Open. It's getting pretty big and growing every year, but I have to say a lot of people do a lot of good work."

Lawrie holds the major championship record for the largest comeback in the final round, making up 10 shots in the final round at Carnoustie in 1999, and beating Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard in a playoff.

"It's a huge honor," Lawrie said.

LOCAL FAVOURITE 

Jim Furyk had the home crowd on his side, but he just failed to deliver a performance worth cheering for in the second round.

Furyk, born in the nearby Philadelphia suburb of West Chester and raised in Lancaster, shot a 9-over 79. Furyk, the 2003 US Open champion, won't be adding a second one to the collection. He hadn't played Merion Golf Club since the 1989 USAmateur.

"It showed," he said. "I didn't do a great job with my prep. I felt like I was ready coming here but I played very poorly. It was probably my last putting performance in the last three or four years."

For years, Furyk hosted the one-day Exelon Invitational at various stops throughout the state. His event was the only professional golf even that the Philadelphia area had on a yearly basis.

He hasn't held the informal exhibition since 2009 and doesn't expect it to return. And he doesn't know when he'll play again in the area.

"I never really played well at the tournaments here," he said. "It's a bummer. I crossed the state at Oakmont for a couple of championships. At 43, there's not going to be another tournament here at Merion."

OOVER AND OOST 

Louis Oosthuizen withdrew from the US Open with a hip injury.

The 2010 British Open champion strained a hip flexor while shooting a 5-over 75 in the first round and pulled out before his second round tee time.

Oosthuizen said the problem affected his swing to the point that he was advised he risked further damage if he kept playing.

The South African's best finish at the US Open came in 2011, when he tied for ninth.

DIVOTS 

Stuck in the mud: Tiger Woods' ski-champion girlfriend Lindsey Vonn had to trek through the mud at Merion like any other fan. 

"Sums up my day on the golf course... #muddy #usopen2013," she wrote on Twitter. The tweet went along with a photo of her from the knees down standing ankle-deep in the soupy muck. 

She later posted a Vine video of various muddy shoes and boots around the course. "Muddy shoes... Best and worst so far. #whatweretheythinking."

- AP

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