World No. 1 Luke Donald lost ground in his battle with Webb Simpson for the PGA Tour money list title as the Briton carded a one-under-par 71 in Friday’s second round of the Disney Classic at Lake Buena Vista in Florida.
Donald needs to finish no worse than in a two-way tie for second at this week’s season-ending event to eclipse American Simpson at the top, but he went into yesterday’s third round five shots off the pace in a tie for 14th.
“It wasn’t very good,” Donald told reporters after mixing three birdies with two bogeys while fighting a sinus infection. “I struggled in kind of all parts of my game, unfortunately. My energy level, my focus wasn’t very good. I struggled off the tee. Hopefully [I’ll] get a good night’s rest and feel a bit more recharged tomorrow. I’m going to need to go low on the weekend.”
While money list leader Simpson returned a 69 to end the day level with Donald at seven-under 137, American Justin Leonard, South Korean Bio Kim and Swede Henrik Stenson took joint control.
Leonard fired a best-of-the-day 63 on the Palm course, one of two layouts hosting the event, while 21-year-old PGA Tour rookie Kim carded a 65 and Stenson a 64 as the trio set the pace at 12-under 132.
Australian left-hander Nick O’Hern was fourth at 10-under after shooting a 66, also on the Palm layout.
Yesterday, for a third day in a row, Donald and Simpson were set to play together in what has been dubbed the “Duel at Disney.”
“It’s great for the sponsor, television and all that goes with it,” said Donald, who trailed Simpson by US$363,029 in the money list coming into this week. “But to be honest, I’ve got to beat everyone, not just Webb. I’ve got to play better than I did today.”
For former British Open champion Leonard, this week has been a rare moment of good form in an otherwise forgettable season.
“It hasn’t been a good year,” said the 39-year-old, who has not won since the 2008 St Jude Championship and languishes at 144th on the money list. “I’m looking forward to the year being over, but it’s nice to have a chance this week to finish it off on a good note. I had a fun, easy day today.”
Kim, the youngest player on this year’s PGA Tour, was delighted after a round highlighted by only 22 putts on the more difficult Magnolia layout.
“I putted great and 20, 30-footers went in the last two holes too,” he said with a broad grin. “I hit the ball better than [I’ve done in the] last couple of months, so that’s always good.”
The cut fell at three-under 141 with British world No. 17 Justin Rose, defending champion Robert Garrigus and former major winners Davis Love III, David Duval and Shaun Micheel among those missing out.
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