Luke Donald sprayed the ball around the course like Seve Ballesteros before fighting back to tie for the lead with Italian teenager Matteo Manassero after the PGA Championship third round on Saturday.
World No. 2 Donald, normally so steady from tee to green, frequently found the trees and the rough at Wentworth as he dropped an unlikely five strokes in the opening six holes.
Donald recovered brilliantly with a flawless four-birdie back nine, giving him a one-over-par 72 and a five-under tally of 208.
Manassero, 18, the hottest young prospect in golf, continued to show maturity beyond his years as he finished with nine straight pars on another tough day for scoring to return a matching 72.
World No. 1 Lee Westwood produced his second consecutive 69 to tie for third position with little-known Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti (69) on 210.
“I felt like Seve out there,” Donald told reporters. “I was in trees with leaves all over my back and I was dropping balls in high grass and escaping from everywhere.”
The Briton took on an improbable escape shot between two pine trees at the 13th, much like the great Ballesteros would have done in his prime.
“It would have been an easy chip out to the fairway and I could have played for a bogey five there,” the 33-year-old said. “The trees were about 20 yards ahead and there was probably a six-foot [2m] gap, but I had a decent enough lie.”
“I felt like I could get through there and create some left to right spin and I hit it perfectly. Sometimes you have to take risks and that one paid off,” said Donald, who could take over as world No. 1 if he were to finish ahead of Westwood yesterday.
While Donald was taking a few gambles to recover from his dreadful start, Manassero carefully plotted his way round the West Course in his bid to become the youngest winner of the PGA Championship.
“It feels fantastic to be leading with some tricky pin positions and tough weather out there,” the twice tour winner said. “I’m a lucky 18-year-old.”
Asked if he was strong enough psychologically to tackle the world No. 1 and 2 yesterday, Manassero replied: “I don’t know, we’ll see.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be a mental battle on that course. I think it’s going to be down to who plays and putts better,” Manassero said.