Luke Donald says Ryder Cup rough will be 'pretty high' in Rome

It may have contributed to him playing the wrong ball for the first time in his career but European captain Luke Donald wants the rough in Rome to be ‘pretty high’ in next year’s Ryder Cup.

The Englishman rolled back the years as he made an impressive eight birdies in the second round of the DS Automobiles Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf Club.

However, the shine was taken off his day’s work by a double-bogey 7 at the 16th, leaving him having to settle for a 68 to add to an opening 69.

“I did something I don't think I've ever done in golf,” declared Donald, who sits handily-placed on five-under-par at the halfway stage, afterwards. “I hit the wrong ball on 16, which was frustrating.

Luke Donald plays out of the rough on he 16th hole in the second round of the DS Automobiles Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

“I hit a poor tee shot left in the rough. The spotter kind of went straight to the ball and I just assumed it was mine and mine was a few feet left of it. Yeah, it was a costly 7. But I made a lot of birdies out there and hit a lot of good shots and, overall, pretty pleased with my game.”

Rory McIlroy, who is using the event - his first as a professional in Italy - to get himself acquainted with the venue for the Ryder Cup, described the rough as “jungle” on Thursday.

“I think the idea is to keep it pretty high,” replied Donald to being asked about how he envisaged the difficulty of the rough for Europe’s bid to claim back the trophy in just over a year’s time.

“We want to put a premium on hitting the fairways. I don't think it will be too much different, a couple fairway lines might be even a little bit tighter.

“The rough here, it's a different type of grass. It's kind of a thick blade, so it doesn't need to be too heavy to make it tough. But it won't be too different. We obviously want to play similar conditions to what we played this year.”

Completing his second circuit as darkness descended, McIlroy birdied the last for a 66 to lead by a shot from US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick on nine-under.

Fitzpatrick, who, like the leader, is a certainty for Donald’s team, looks as though he feels very much at home on the course where Europe will take on an American side led by Zach Johnson. He has opened with rounds of 65 and 69, the latter including a burst of five straight birdies.

“Up-and-down, plenty of birdies but plenty of bogeys, too,” said Fitzpatrick of his work so far. “But, going into the weekend, I'm very happy.”

He described the rough as “really penal” but is excited about the course staging a Ryder Cup. “It's going to be great,” said Fitzpatrick. “The holes are set up for crowds to be surrounded. The viewing is pretty good. I'm sure the atmosphere is going to be fantastic in a year's time.”

Fellow Englishman Tom Lewis (65) sits on seven-under, with Broughty Ferry-based Frenchman Victor Perez a further shot back following his 66.

Scott Jamieson’s second-round 71, which was illuminated by an eagle-2 at the 16th, left him on four-under, one ahead of Bob MacIntyre (69) and four better than Marc Warren (71).

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