TV analysts? They were confused.
But Luke Donald? Although his movement was bold, he was conspicuous.
And Phil Mickelson? He loved every part of it.
“It was the right play. I feel it, Captain,” the embattled main protagonist remarked six times wrote on Twitterand add a cool emoji after the first sentence, and a sunglasses emoji after the second sentence.
There’s a little bit to unpack here, so we’ll start with the sequence itself. During HSBC Abu Dhabi’s second round on Friday, Donald was within yards of the green after two shots on a 534-yard par-5 2nd at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, and this year’s European Ryder Cup captain was coming off with a third putt. Here’s where I got the fun.
To the left of the hole, Donald’s caddy was holding the flag; His player would have hit “blindly”.
“This is an adventure – select Luke Donald,” said an announcer on the Golf Channel.
Another announcer said, “I’m not sure why the pin is there.” “Any reasons are there?”
“Yeah, he’s crazy,” said a third announcer.
“He wouldn’t have been able to see the hole, right?” asked the second analyst
“It’s not exactly the tallest, is it?” said the third.
Then Donald hit the hole straight, his ball checked, and he had a 7-foot putt for birdie.
“That’s a great shot, so maybe we should try blind chips to 5 pars,” said one of the announcers on the broadcast.
“I have no idea, yeah,” said another.
So what does it give? There was some method to the madness. Ahead of Donald on the 22-yard putt, the green sloped up about three-quarters of the way, then downhill, to the hole. Donald had decided to cover the slopes – and he didn’t want anything to get in his way.
“There was a huge slope going down to the hole,” Donald wrote on TwitterAfter, after Share a DP World Tour account A video clip of the shot and the comment that followed. “I had to fly the ball all the way to the hole with the spin to have any chance of getting close to it—I didn’t want the chance of it flying into the flag in flight and cracking 40 feet away.”
Two hours later, Michelson agreed. After a controversial 2022, the social media commentator has largely kept silent, though he couldn’t help himself after the anti-grain theatrics, a trademark of Mickelson’s.
After the pitch, Donald dropped the putt for a birdie. Despite a later sequence on Friday where he put into a bunker, he will start the final round on Sunday with six strokes off leaders Francesco Molinari, Min-Woo Lee and Shane Lowry.
“I really came in this year with higher expectations than I had for a while just because of my game,” Donald said Thursday, after opening the game with an eight-under lead of 64. I feel like I’ve done some good work on my long game with Jimmy Gough, and I’ve done some good work on my short game with Pat Goss. And to be honest, I feel like my game is in a pretty good place.
“It’s totally no surprise that I shot 64 today. I went out there — again, the last couple of days I’ve been swinging really well, and it was good to carry on that day.”
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