Luke Donald is 36 holes away from becoming the world No 1 after a brilliant 65 gave him a two-shot lead at the halfway point of The Heritage in South Carolina.
Donald needs to win at Hilton Head if he is to usurp Martin Kaymer and on yesterday's performance that scenario may well have leapt from possibility to probability. The Englishman's six-under magnificence – which hauled him to 10-under – contained seven birdies which once again marked him out as one the best short-game merchants in the game.
"I haven't made too many mistakes out there," said Donald, whose nearest challengers include the defending champion, Jim Furyk, with countryman Ian Poulter on seven-under. "This is a tricky place. You have to think two three shots ahead. It's a thinking man's course. When I came on Tour people said this would be the perfect course for me. It's been good to me this last few years."
It certainly has with a third and a second in the last two Hilton Head renewals. With nine top-10s from his last 10 appearances, the world No 3 went into this event an obvious favourite – not a position to which he is accustomed. But with a new attitude which his coach, Pat Goss, calls "Ryder Cup Luke", the quiet man of golf is exuding a steely confidence.
If he fails in his mission, then Britain may well have a fall-back. As Lee Westwood set off to complete his second round of the Indonesian Masters this morning the world No 1 crown was also on his mind. Westwood – who will reclaim the mantle he lost last month if he wins and Donald fails to prevail – was tying for the lead until lightning paused his charge in Jakarta.
It was not only the patriotic who would have been happy with his efforts. The traditionalists would have been delighted to see he was using a conventional putter again after playing his last three competitive rounds with the dreaded belly putter. The return to the smaller implement paid instant dividends when he birdied the first four holes.
Westwood made the turn in an impressive 32 before adding birdies on the 12th and the 16th, with his solitary bogey on the 13th. He was five-under for his round and nine-under on the leaderboard, which saw him level with Shaaban Hussin and Park Hyun-bin. Westwood loves to be in the position to enforce his game and was clearly frustrated by the storm's intervention.Reuse content