RBC Heritage

McCombs: Donald's comfort with Harbour Town evident

mmccombs@islandpacket.comApril 19, 2013 

Luke Donald tees off on No. 1 during Friday's second round of the 45th RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr Buy Photo

There's something to be said for being comfortable.

Just ask Luke Donald.

Donald said it took a couple of years for him to get comfortable at Harbour Town. But you never would have known it Friday.

Donald's 3-under-par 68 at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing moved him into a tie for fourth at 5-under 137, a shot off the lead headed into Saturday.

"I played here my first two years on tour and struggled," Donald said after his birdie at No. 9. "It was a course that I thought was going to be good and it took a few years away, of not playing here, and I came back and had a great stretch."

After two missed cuts and a tie for 69th, Donald took a five-year leave of absence from the Heritage.

When he came back, he was like a changed man.

He tied for second in 2009 behind Brian Gay's tournament-record 264. In 2010, he was tied for third behind the playoff pairing of Brian Davis and Jim Furyk.

Then, in 2011, he was involved in a playoff of his own, falling to Brandt Snedeker.

"I obviously figured out how to play this course," Donald said. "It's very much a positional kind of golf course. You don't have to overpower it, and I feel very comfortable here."

During the 2011 tournament, Donald had more on his mind that the win. A victory would have given him the No. 1 spot in the Rolex World Golf Rankings.

Donald did what he needed to, shooting a 1-under 70, but Snedeker's blistering final-round 64 ruined the plan.

Eventually, Donald took the top spot. But last year, he came into the RBC Heritage in danger of losing that spot. And it may have distracted him.

"Obviously my focus this week is just trying to win the tournament," Donald said in an interview the Wednesday before the tournament in 2012.

Donald didn't struggle, but never really contended either, finishing tied for 37th.

But this year, despite uneven results prior to the RBC Heritage, the comfort level is back. So much so that Donald wasn't worried about the rain that eventually came Friday evening.

"The tougher the conditions, the more experience someone has around this course and knowing their game, that's going to be an advantage," Donald said. "This course, you don't need length to be successful around this course. It's more of a positioning sort of course. In inclement weather, that's going to be even more the case -- just being patient, hitting your targets and making some putts."

That's what Donald does well at Harbour Town. That's why he's comfortable here. And that's important.

"It's nice to be in a good position," Donald said. "And I'm looking forward to potentially being in contention on Sunday."

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