Donald rues his missed opportunity to claim title

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The Independent Online

Rather than toasting his best-ever finish in an Open, Luke Donald was last night lamenting his first-round performance, which cost him a chance at victory at Turnberry.

While the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Tom Watson were tearing up the Ailsa course in sunny, calm conditions last Thursday, Donald was labouring to a one-over 71.

It left him too much ground to catch up and, although he came in with a final-round 67 yesterday, it was only good enough for a level-par total of 280. That secured him a top-10 place – his previous best was 35th at Hoylake two years ago – but the 31-year-old felt he had missed an opportunity.

"I played solidly [yesterday], in fact I played solidly the last three days and the only day I really struggled was the first day in perfect conditions," said the Englishman, who had to pull out of last year's Open at Royal Birkdale because of a wrist injury which sidelined him for several months.

"I can't be disappointed with a 67 today. I would have liked to have holed that [10-foot] putt on the last to get into red numbers but I'm very happy with the way I played. I'm satisfied with the week. The only thing I can be frustrated with is day one; to shoot one-over and be in 60th or 70th place it was always going to be an uphill struggle after that.

"My game feels good. My goal was to get a little better attuned to links-style golf. My record has been miserable up to now so it is nice to come over and figure it out."

Six birdies in 72 holes was never going to be enough for Padraig Harrington to capture his third Open title in a row but he was in positive mood as he prepared to hand over the famous Claret Jug. "It's come to an end but it's been a good two years," the 37-year-old Irishman said after a closing 73 gave him a 12-over-par aggregate of 292.

"It had to come to an end at some stage [but] I've another 20-odd of these to come back to. I look forward to that [especially] with [59-year-old] Tom Watson showing it's [still] possible to be competitive."

Looking ahead to next year's Open Championship at the "home of golf", Harrington said: "St Andrews is a tough course to win on but I think I can get [the Claret Jug) back there."