Donald hits 64 to close on Dunhill win

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The Independent Online

Luke Donald gave himself the chance to end three-and-a-half years without a win by matching the lowest round of his European Tour career in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship yesterday.

Donald followed a 65 at St Andrews with an eight-under-par 64 at Kingsbarns and heads back to the home of golf with a one-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy and Simon Dyson. The tournament, which has a first prize of more than £485,000, goes into an extra day because no play was possible on Saturday because of gale-force winds.

Donald, just inside the top 100 after his opening 72 at Carnoustie, has a Scottish father and donned a pair of Tartan trousers for the day. "I'm glad I played well because you have to when you wear something this outrageous," said the 29-year-old.

"I thought five or six birdies would be good but I went a few better." He had nine in all and was particularly pleased with those on the 16th and 17th.

He had gone in the water to bogey the short 15th but pitched to eight feet on the next and then, despite his drive finishing in a divot, hit a seven iron to 12 feet.

His last victory was the Honda Classic in Florida in March 2006 and his last success in Europe came more than five years ago. An American journalist coined the phrase "Luke Donald Disease" this July, claiming that "most top British players" were sufferers and he was the best example of a get-rich-quick golfer lacking the drive to fulfil his potential. Not surprisingly, it did not go down well with Donald, his family or his fans.

"I don't think I've ever met the guy," said Donald. "If I did I would say I didn't really appreciate it and that I felt it was extremely off the mark. It was slightly hurtful. I like having stuff named after me, but not a disease."

He is glad to be back fighting for a title after needing surgery for a serious wrist injury last year. In the celebrity pro-am, Donald will partner ex-footballer Jamie Redknapp in the final round, while McIlroy, on his 20th birthday, will play with his father Gerry.

The Northern Ireland star had shared the halfway lead with compatriot Michael Hoey and Scot Richie Ramsay and went two clear when he made a 25-foot putt for eagle at the third at Kingsbarns. But then came three bogeys and in the end he was content with a three-under 69.