Luke Donald fails to ride storm as he sets dismal record


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The Independent Online

Luke Donald missed the first halfway cut of his professional career in a regular European Tour event after adding a 73 to his opening 74 at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.

The world No 3, who is still searching for his first major win, admitted he has hit a slump at the wrong time with the Masters less than a month away.

Heavy storms have forced the event to be reduced to 54 holes after the leaders managed just two holes of their third round before play was suspended for the third day in succession yesterday.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, from Thailand, has a one-shot lead over his South African playing partner, Charl Schwartzel, going into today's final round.

"I've got a couple of weeks off to get ready for Augusta and I'll obviously be very diligent in my preparation," said Donald, who ran up a double-bogey seven on the 10th in a disastrous back nine of 39 in his second round.

"I would have loved to go back home in form, but in golf you just never know. We've seen it many times before when people go into tournaments with very little form and win, including majors. So you just have to keep plugging away and hope.

"The greens here are very different. They are a little slower than what I'm used to and I just didn't adjust or adapt to them.

"From tee to green I wasn't that far off. But it's the first time I've missed the cut in a regular European Tour event since I've been a pro. So I am very disappointed for myself and for the fans who have come out to watch me."

On the USPGA Tour, fellow Englishman Justin Rose was joint leader with the American Bill Haas after two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida.

The world No 5 had led by two shots after the first round but was pegged back on day two, signing for a two-under 70 after bogeying the 14th and 18th holes at the Bay Hill course.

Haas, meanwhile, produced an impressive 66, and the pair ended the day nine under, one stroke ahead of John Huh, also from America, who carded a round of 69.

"I just stayed with my game the whole day," said Rose. "At this stage of the tournament you are just trying to tick along.

"It is important to be patient, let the round evolve and put yourself in a position for the final day. The course on Thursday morning was way tougher than on Friday; the course was there for the taking then for the most part. I felt I ticked along nicely.

"Towards the end it got a little bit tricky with a bit of rain and the greens got a little bit greasy, but for the most part it was playable. It only really started raining heavily on 18, and I felt I got a flyer with my nine-iron.

"Those things you cannot really account for – you are not 100 per cent sure if the greens have changed speed – maybe that got to me a little bit on the 18th green.

"That is a bit of a mental error, giving one away there, but all in all I am happy with my progress."

The second round was also notable for Phil Mickelson's failure to make the cut, with the four-time major winner producing an error-strewn 79 including two triple-bogeys.

It was the American's first missed cut since The Open at Royal Lytham last summer.

"There was a huge discrepancy between the low scores and the high scores," he said. "I felt pretty good coming into this event.

"Obviously, I played terribly and I deserved to shoot a score like this. But I still felt like if I hit good shots, I could make birdies."

Tiger Woods, the defending champion, had looked to be challenging for a top spot but gusty winds down the back nine scuppered his bid, with three bogeys in the final three holes resulting in a second-round 70.

That left the world No 2 four shots off the lead in a three-way tie for seventh – one adrift of Ken Duke, Jimmy Walker and JJ Henry, who were joint fourth.

Woods said: "I played way better than I scored. I missed a couple of short ones, and I had a rough finish.

"I've sort of made my share of mistakes on the last few holes in the last couple days, and I need to clean that up."