Donald faces early exit as scores soar at US PGA

World No 1 Luke Donald’s wait for a first major title looks certain to go on to next April after strong winds sent scores soaring in the second round of the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island yesterday.

Donald, who missed the halfway cut in the US Open in June, braced himself for another early exit in this the 38th major of his career after a 76 left him six over par. The lead in the clubhouse was the four under of 49-year-old Vijay Singh, trying to become golf’s oldest-ever major champion, after a magnificent 69 given the conditions, but out on the Ocean Course big-hitting American Gary Woodland took over at the top from Carl Pettersson. While the Swede resumed with a bogey five to slip to five under Woodland birdied the 557-yard second and replaced him at six under. Rory McIlroy’s four opening pars kept him only one behind and Tiger Woods matched Woodland’s birdie to lie two back.

“I actually played decent and got nothing out of it,” said Donald. “I hung in there pretty well and I hit a lot of shots that I thought would give me a putt for birdie and I ended up taking bogey. The frustration builds, but I’m not making any excuses. There’s still other things to look for and it makes me more determined to keep working hard.”

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Donald was not alone in thinking he had probably got the wrong end of the draw.

Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington also shot 76 to drop back to level par and two over respectively and Justin Rose’s 79 saw him tumble from three under to four over.

Harrington has added interest in his fortunes this week after Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal said on Wednesday that the three-time major winner needed to do “extraordinary” things to come into the reckoning for his side. The Dubliner would have to win this week to force his way in on points and believes that Ian Poulter is a near-certainty for one of Olazabal’s two wild cards if he needs it. Sergio Garcia is currently in the tenth and last automatic spot, but his 75 for seven over leaves him in danger of requiring a captain’s pick as well. As for the American side, this is their last week of qualifying and Phil Mickelson, in the last qualifying position, did his chances no harm at all with a fine 71 for level par – in front of captain Davis Love.

Earlier, Welshman Jamie Donaldson shot 73 – 20 strokes better than one of his playing partners, American club professional Doug Wade – to be on two under. “Just a brutal test of golf,” he said. “The whole thing is very difficult and frustrating at times. We have two more days to grind. I’ll just try to take it one shot at a time.”

Winner of the Irish Open last month on the links of Royal Portrush – his first European Tour victory in 255 starts – Donaldson was prospering at another seaside venue and in more tough weather. The 36-year-old, playing only his second major in America, birdied the first and sixth, but hit his second shot into a thick patch of rough on the 579-yard seventh and needed three hacks at it to get out.

A double bogey seven was the end result, but he hit straight back with a 35-foot birdie putt before coming home in a two over 38 with three bogeys and a birdie in the final five holes as the weather worsened.

Paul Lawrie, close to securing a Ryder Cup return after 13 years, shot 75 for four over like playing partner Rose. The Scot was initially displayed as having holed his second shot to the ninth for a closing eagle, but it was corrected to a par four. Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey was on the same mark after improving eight strokes on his opening 78, while England’s David Lynn was one better following a 74. Compatriot Simon Dyson, though, crashed to an 80 and bowed out on nine over, while the back-to-back 78s of 53-year-old Roger Chapman perhaps came as no surprise – he qualified for a first major in America by winning the Senior PGA title in May.

McIlroy, meanwhile, bogeyed the short fifth after missing the green and Pettersson’s second dropped shot came on the 12th. That left Woodland leading by one from defending champion Keegan Bradley and 20-year-old Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa.