Donald leads Dunhill; McIlroy one back

Luke Donald acknowledges the crowd Oct. 4 after the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns.

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Luke Donald was almost perfect with his putter on the way to an 8-under 64 at Kingsbarns on Sunday that gave him a one-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy and Simon Dyson in the weather-delayed third round of the Dunhill Links Championship.

Donald had nine birdies and just one bogey, at the 15th.

“I gave myself a lot of chances from 10 to 15 feet and just really rolled the ball nicely. Made pretty much everything I looked at,” said Donald, who was at 15-under 201 after playing each of the three courses used in the event: Kingsbarns, the Old Course at St. Andrews and Carnoustie.

McIlroy shot a 69 at Kingsbarns with three birdies on the back nine after an eagle, a birdie and three bogeys on the front. Dyson had a 68 on the same course. Michael Hoey (70), Darren Clarke (67), Richie Ramsay (70) and Rafael Cabrera-Bello (65) were another stroke back at 13 under.

The leading players will tee off on the Old Course for the final round on Monday. The third round was postponed from Saturday because of high winds.

Donald was out of action with a wrist injury for the second half of last year and has struggled for consistency in 2009 despite a second place in the Verizon Heritage and a tie for fifth in the British Open.

Donald rued his bogey at No. 15.

“I spoilt the round with one bad swing there. I hit it in the water but still made a pretty good four,” he said.

McIlroy is playing with his father, Gerry, in the pro-am section of the tournament and they are one of the 22 pairs who will contest that competition on Monday, Gerry McIlroy’s 50th birthday.

But Rory has a better chance of winning the main event than he and his father do in the pro-am, where they are 15th.

McIlroy said he struggled with the pace of the greens Sunday.

“I couldn’t get used to them at all,” he said. “After three bogeys I was relieved to see a putt go in at the ninth and the back nine was very solid. I played great at St. Andrews a couple of days ago, so hopefully I can do the same again.”

Lee Westwood’s resurgence continued after a first-round 73 at Carnoustie and he shot 66 at Kingsbarns to rise to 14th place.

Ernie Els also had a 66 there after two 72s and was tied for 33rd. Padraig Harrington just made the cut after a 72.

The Irishman, winner of three majors over the last two years, had double bogeys at Nos. 13-14. On the 15th, his tee shot came up short and he found a bunker with his second, taking three more to get down.

He had a bad lie at the next and then missed a 3-footer.

“I was running out of steam today,” Harrington said. “But I’m glad to be playing tomorrow. You never want to miss out on playing St. Andrews.”

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