• US Open, Round Two

No more excuse for Donald's latest major failure

ESPN staff
June 15, 2012

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It's hard to keep making excuses for Luke Donald as he continues to flatter to deceive in major championships.

Since becoming the world No. 1 in the early part of 2011, Donald has missed two cuts in five major appearances and achieved a highest finish of tied-eighth - one achieved during a performance at the US PGA Championship where he was never in realistic contention.

This year's US Open, at the short but tight Olympic Club, was supposed to be Donald's time to shine. His lack of length off the tee was not supposed to be a problem unlike at most other majors, while his accuracy and finesse around the greens was supposed to hand him a significant advantage.

As world No. 1, this was where he was supposed to contend.

That was the theory, the reality was markedly different - 79, 72, 11-over, missed cut.

Thanks for playing, better luck next time.

"It was a little better today, but little consolation obviously," Donald said of his latest major failure. "I think I missed nine putts inside 10 feet yesterday and just couldn't get the feel for the greens, the reads, the speed.

"If I had putted a little bit better yesterday I could have ground out a score today and maybe been somewhere decently placed for the weekend.

"But it wasn't to be and I'm trying to learn from it and come back stronger next time."

That's called putting a positive spin on a real calamity. Donald missed over half the fairways off the tee and reached exactly half the greens in regulation. He failed to get up-and-down from the sand on all three occasions he was asked to - while taking 64 putts across the two days.

Yet, statistically, he was not significantly worse than playing partners Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy - who both beat him for 36 holes. McIlroy (+10) will also miss the cut but Westwood (+5) remains in the hunt, despite missing the same number of greens as his compatriot over the two days.

McIlroy, while equally disappointing, can be cut some slack. He's obviously not in the greatest form (this was his fourth missed cut in five tournaments) but, more importantly, he's already won one of these. He is beyond criticism.

The difference for Westwood - supposedly the worst chipper and putter of the pair - was that he, er, actually managed to chip and putt successfully over the course of both days.

Maybe Donald's lofty position in the world rankings - earned, deservedly, for a remarkable run of results in regular tour events - has only served to shine a spotlight on a performance record in majors that has always been distinctly underwhelming.

"If I had putted a little bit better yesterday I could have ground out a score today and maybe been somewhere decently placed for the weekend"
- Luke Donald

He's not very good in major championships as one of the game's best players - but then he never was even as one of the sport's 'second tier' stars.

Donald has six career top-ten finishes in major championships over the entirety of his career. To put that into context against Westwood, another top player looking for his first major win, the latter has 13 - and from only a handful of extra years on tour.

Westwood, in fact, has wrapped up six top ten finishes in his last nine major appearances. He could be on course for another this weekend, if he can sharpen up his game from tee to green. Donald, meanwhile, will have to watch from his sofa and reflect on the many improvements he still needs to make.

Perhaps excuses should never have been made for a player good enough to be ranked the best in the world. But what is undeniable is that they cannot be made any more.

The Open - at Royal Lytham & St Annes - and US PGA - at Kiawah Island - are not courses that should put Donald at a disadvantage before he even starts.

Those are his two shots to convince us he isn't a lost cause at major championships. We need to see something from him.

There will be no more excuses from us. There can be no more excuses from him.

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