PALM HARBOR, Fla. – It wasn’t the most colorful scorecard of the day at the event that bills itself as the most colorful on the PGA Tour, but it was more than enough to keep Luke Donald in the mix as he looks to win for the first time in seven years.
The former world No. 1 was steady on a day when swirling winds and crispy conditions made pars dearly sought. Donald made 15 of them en route to a third-round 70, dropping his only shot at No. 6 and bouncing back with 11 straight pars before a 7-foot birdie on the last lifted him into a tie for fourth at 6 under. He heads into the final round three shots behind defending champ Paul Casey.
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“I’m not too far back,” Donald said. “It played tricky today I thought, I thought a lot of the pins were kind of tough to get to. I was very patient, I felt like I actually played pretty well. I misjudged a few iron shots, distance-wise, but otherwise pretty happy with my ball-striking.”
Donald missed most of last year because of a back injury, and the 41-year-old is making just his second start of the year after missing the cut at the Sony Open more than two months ago. But a return to Innisbrook, where he won a playoff in 2012 that still serves as his most recent PGA Tour triumph, has been just the boost he needed to get his game headed in the right direction after limited action over the last 12 months.
Donald hasn’t cracked the top 30 on Tour since a runner-up finish at the RBC Heritage nearly two years ago, but as he continues his return from injury he’s keeping his focus away from the leaderboards that line the Copperhead Course.
“I’m just happy to be here and playing and feeling pain-free, and really that again remains the goal,” he said. “There isn’t really any expectation on results, but I am playing nicely and still have a chance, so I would love to put on a good round tomorrow and see what happens.”