On a day when Tiger Woods was on the course, Rory McIlroy’s popularity is booming and a Japanese sensation burst onto the scene, the world’s top-ranked player shot 6 under Saturday to move into contention for a Bridgestone Invitational championship.
Yet when he stepped to the podium after his round Saturday at Firestone Country Club, only four reporters bothered to stick around and listen. Such is life for England’s Luke Donald, who continues to excel in anonymity.
Donald’s 6 under equaled Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and Zach Johnson for the best of the day, but no one seemed to notice.
“A lot of the crowd has been following someone else,” Donald said. “It doesn’t bother me. I understand there are more people in the limelight right now. Rory obviously and what he did [winning the U.S. Open] and Tiger coming back are big stories. It doesn’t bother me. I’ll just go about my business.”
He got off to a scorching start with birdies on three of his first four holes and a bogey on 18 was his only misstep. He enters today’s final round 3 strokes behind leader Adam Scott.
“Tee to green, this is as solid as I’ve played for a while,” said Donald, who won the Scottish Open last month for his only victory since climbing to No. 1 in the world in May. “I hit the ball quite well at the Scottish, but the last three days have been very solid in terms of greens and fairways.”
Donald needed only 26 putts to get through Saturday, down significantly from his rounds of 30 and 31 the previous two days. He has just two bogeys through the first three rounds. One of those was on 18 Saturday, when his tee shot landed in the left rough and his par putt missed by 8 inches.
“Around a course that’s pretty tight and tough as this place can be, [two bogeys] is pretty good,” he said. “I putted a lot better. That was really the only difference [from] the first two days. I’ve been swinging it nicely, hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. I was able to get the putter rolling and hole a few putts, which was a pleasant surprise.”
He’ll enter next week’s PGA Championship feeling the pressure that comes with a No. 1 ranking. Expectations will certainly be higher, but regardless of how he finishes today, Donald feels confident given his first three rounds at Firestone.
“Those are the tournaments you want to win, especially being ranked No. 1 in the world,” he said. “I think there’s some expectancy there from the media, as well. But you try and treat it like any other event and just go about your business of what you can control and keep doing what you know you can do. That’s give myself opportunities and hopefully you can take them.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://cavs.ohio.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.