NORTON, Mass. – Luke Donald’s third round at the Deutsche Bank Championship ended with yet another birdieless finish at 18 – followed by a stand-up apology.
Donald, the No. 2 player in the world, experienced the thunderous power of Twitter on Saturday evening. He issued a critical tweet to his nearly 300,000 followers about the newly redesigned 18th green at TPC Boston (‘Nothing quite like hitting my best shot of the day into the last and walking off with a bogie, (sic) what a terribly re-designed green’ #sourtaste). But then Donald tacked on two other entries that he said he’d fully intended to be private, and not for public consumption.
First he gave out his personal cellphone number; soon after, he called respected architect Gil Hanse, who oversaw the radical redesign of TPC Boston’s 18th green, a derogatory term. Once he realized what he’d done, Donald said he deleted the two entries as quickly as he could. However, they’d been out for several minutes, and the damage had been done.
“I made a mistake, unfortunately,” Donald said after shooting 1-under 70 on Sunday. ”I made an error. I sent a message that was not meant to go out on Twitter, and I take full responsibility. I realized it immediately, tried to delete it and tried to move on. Unfortunately it got caught up there, and such is life.
“I didn’t mean to put it out there, and I apologize to anyone I offended, especially Gil Hanse.”
Donald was 4 under for the tournament when he arrived at the 18th hole on Saturday, and knocked his second shot over the back of the green. His first chip ran off the front of the green; his next one came up short. Donald had to get up and down for bogey-6. The usually laid-back Englishman clearly was still angry with what transpired when he yanked open the door to the scoring trailer some 40 yards from the green.
Hanse, the architect commissioned to design the course that will host the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and also hired by Donald Trump to toughen the famed Blue Monster at Doral, has been on property this weekend at TPC Boston. Donald said he’d yet to run into Hanse, but added that if he did, he would apologize to him personally.
Reached late Saturday at TPC Boston, Hanse knew about Donald’s public apology, but still was unaware exactly what Donald had written about him until a writer informed him.
Said Hanse: “He doesn’t have to apologize. I understand it was a personal message, that it was private.”
Donald said the two tweets that went out were intended to be direct messages to a single recipient, but it didn’t take long for him to realize that wasn’t the case. He said he was receiving so many calls he had to turn his cellphone off. He got a good deal of support in many voicemails from many of his followers.
“It was ringing pretty hard,” he said. “Probably a new number is in store for me. That’s what I deserve.”
Several celebrities and well-known athletes have abandoned Twitter after getting into damaging situations with what they’ve written. Donald wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s retiring when asked if this incident would curtail his Twitter career.
“Well, it’s certainly a powerful tool,” he said, “and you’ve got to be very aware of it. There’s a certain addiction to Twitter. It’s that constant update that everyone enjoys. . . . but probably wise if I took a little bit of a hiatus maybe.”
As for his thoughts on the 18th hole at TPC Boston, where the green was dramatically reduced and altered in a quest to add a little more excitement to the tournament’s finishing par-5 hole?
“I’m still not that keen on it,” Donald said.