Donald's 64 leaves rivals in shade

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The Independent Online

When a professional golfer reels off eight birdies in nine holes he tends to leave most, if not all, of his rivals in the shade, including Tiger Woods. So it was for Luke Donald at the Memorial tournament in Ohio last night as the staggering run he called, with some understatement, "a hot streak" helped him to a 64 and a clubhouse lead.

Donald began with a five at the par-four first and despite pulling this dropped shot back on the second, when holing out from 48 yards with a lob-wedge, he admitted to expecting nothing special when reaching the seventh in level par. "I guess all good rounds start with a bogey," joked the Englishman. "It was kind of a normal, everyday round until I got to the eighth and made a nice putt from the fringe there. That kind of sparked off a run of six birdies"

The 31-year-old had his putter to thank for that, needing only 20 putts to record his lowest round of the season. "Eight-under through nine; that doesn't happen very often but when you get on that roll, it feels pretty good," said Donald, who has not won since the 2006 Honda Classic. "So I just kept going and made some birdies."

What Padraig Harrington would have given for his own back nine of 30. The three-times major winner continued his worrying spell when bogeying three of the last six holes for a 75. That happened to be two shots worse than Paul Casey, who birdied three of the last four to leave himself in with a chance of making the cut, although as the game's form player he would have been anticipating more. Woods, meanwhile, bogeyed the last on his way to a 69.

* England's Nick Dougherty fired a five-under 67 yesterday to share the first-round lead of the Wales Open with Denmark's Thomas Bjorn and the South African David Frost.