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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 June 2006, 20:33 GMT 21:33 UK
Donald fights back at Winged Foot
Luke Donald
Donald has battled back from an eight-over 78 in the first round
Luke Donald kept up his recovery from a terrible first round with a level-par 70 in the third round at the US Open.

The 28-year-old Englishman was in danger of missing the cut after an eight-over-par effort on Thursday but has climbed the leaderboard ever since.

After a one-under 69 on Friday he narrowly missed a par putt at the last on Saturday that would have given him back-to-back sub-par rounds.

At seven over for 54 holes, Donald is only five shots off the lead.

"When I made a birdie on 16 I thought maybe if I could get one more and get back to five over I could only be three or four back at the end of the day," said the world number 11.

It is always a learning experience and it's the first time I've made the cut in a US Open so I've got to be happy

Paul Casey
"The wind is picking up slightly but not enough for it to make too much of a difference.

"If I'm still within four or five tomorrow you never know what could happen, but you can't really make a charge on this course. You try to hit fairways and greens and hopefully some putts go in."

His compatriot and Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey has also dug deep to recover from a horrible start at Winged Foot.

Casey, also 28, opened with a 77 but has come back into the event with consecutive 72s and is now 11 over.

"I didn't hit enough fairways but did a good job of keeping the head screwed on, that's what it's all about," said Casey, who withdrew with a back injury after a first-round 85 at Pinehurst last year.

"Whether you're hitting it good or bad you just have to be very patient and take the good with the bad. Pars win golf events round here, you just have to cut out the big numbers.

David Howell
Howell has seen his US Open challenge get tangled in the rough
"It's no surprise when you see a lot of straight hitters up there and I think those at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the week will not only be straight, but also have a good head on their shoulders.

"I haven't played particularly great golf tee to green but I've done a good job of keeping my head screwed on and rolling with the punches.

"It is always a learning experience and it's the first time I've made the cut in a US Open so I've got to be happy.

"This is a wonderful golf course and a good experience."

Casey, who accidentally stabbed himself in the hand with a pencil on Saturday, finished one shot ahead of another European Ryder Cup star, David Howell.

The 30-year-old, however, had less reason to be happy with his display than his fellow Englishmen as he had led the tournament by three shots at one stage on Thursday.

The European Order of Merit leader dropped four shots in four holes down the stretch in the first round, and then seven shots in seven holes on Friday.

There are positives to take but I am not exactly delighted with my performance so far this week

David Howell
Only dropping three shots in his last three holes on Saturday was something of an improvement.

"I played about as well as a man can play to shoot four over par," said Howell.

"I hit one or two bad iron shots but once again I didn't get the ball up and down one single time.

"You can't get around this course if you can't do that. You can't hit all the greens here."

At 7,264 yards, Winged Foot's West Course is the longest lay-out in US Open history. Add to that all the usual ingredients of a USGA-prepared course - tight fairways, thick rough and small, quick greens - and you have the ultimate test in professional golf.

"More than anything else you need to be on your game at the US Open and you need to be as patient as you can possibly be," added Howell.

"You can let it get to you as it can on any golf course but this course is designed to test your patience and to play with your mind.

"There are positives to take but I am not exactly delighted with my performance so far this week."

Howell was not the only big-name British star to see his US Open challenge disappear on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Darren Clarke endured a catastrophic third round which included three double-bogeys. Ironically, the Ulsterman's only birdie came at the devilishly difficult 18th.

US Open photos
17 Jun 06 |  Golf
US Open gossip
17 Jun 06 |  Golf

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