HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Eighteen holes and nearly 12 hours of golf can easily produce five things of note, especially when the stage is Harbour Town Golf Links and the field filled with marquee names.
So, a look at the second round of The Heritage:
1.) Introducing . . . You may have heard thunder clapping out over Calibogue Sound as the final groups played the 18th hole in front of the iconic lighthouse.
From this seat, however, it sure sounded like trumpets declaring a new leader in professional golf’s world order.
How does No. 1 Luke Donald sound?
Yeah, yeah. He’s never won a major and he’s not exactly been a winning machine in recent years. But say this about the 33-year-old Englishman: He’s a ballstriking precisionist who is firing on all cylinders.
Two weeks after having posted a stirring rally to nearly win the Masters, his fourth top 10 in five starts, Donald is setting the pace midway through The Heritage. Backing up a 67 with a 6-under 65, Donald is 10 under and one in front of Garrett Willis. Four others – Camilo Villegas, Jim Furyk, Jason Day and Chad Campbell – are 8 under.
With a dozen birdies against two bogeys, Donald is in position to win and move from No. 3 to No. 1 in the world ranking.
But there’s a long way to go? Yes, there is, but it’s certainly a delicious subplot to carry us through a weekend that will show off Hilton Head’s best colors – plaid and pulsating sunshine.
While Donald walked in the brightest spotlight at Harbour Town, he was hardly the only storyline. Here were five others.
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2) Legends leave early . . . . . We’re talking Davis Love III, a five-time winner here; Ernie Els, so passionate about the place; and Jeff Beck, one of the world’s greatest guitarist.
Oops, on second thought, make that Jeff Peck, a club pro who got in by winning the PGA of America section qualifier. He never was in conention to make the cut, but he shouldn’t feel badly. Neither were major winners and the newest converts to the belly putter – Love and Els.
Playing for the 26th straight year, Love (76-73) missed the cut for just the fifth time and first since 1994.
Els missed the cut for just the second time in 12 appearances.
No word on how the experiment with the belly putter will be affected by such play.
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3.) The kid’s got staying power . . . . . Say what you want about Rickie Fowler, he gets it, and the PGA Tour has to be happy that he does.
Having shot 74-73 to miss just his second cut of the season, Fowler was done with his work by 1 p.m. He could have been out of town and on to other business, but he’s committed to his craft and all that goes with it. So Fowler hung around, signed autographs for a half-hour or so, had lunch, and was still on the putting green at 5:05 p.m.
As for his schedule, “I’m doing the next four in a row,” Fowler said, meaning New Orleans, Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow, The Players Championship and Colonial.
Advice to fans in those towns: Spend time watching him, because he’s worth it.
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4) Two out of three . . . . . While Els struggled, his notable playing competitors were quite the opposite. Ian Poulter tossed down a sterling 5-under 66 to push to 5 under and get into a share of seventh. And Graeme McDowell, your U.S. Open champion? He played his last 10 holes of his second round in 3 under to shoot 69 and get halfway home at 2 under, tied for 15th.
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5) How to make plaid look stylish . . . . . Either John Daly’s calendar was a month off or he ran out of pants. Either way, he showed up wearing bright green trousers with shamrocks on them.
Maybe they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on April 22 in Arkansas, who knows?
But give Long John credit. After he shot an opening 1-under 70, he started at the 10th hole, bogeyed 11 and 12, then made a triple at the par-4 18th to go out in 39 and fall to 3 over.
Seemingly headed out of town, Daly birdied the third, fourth and seventh holes to shoot 33 and make the cut on the number.
It’s just the second time in seven starts this season that Daly has qualified for the final two rounds.