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‘That’s a disaster’: Ryder Cup captain putts ball into bunker — and drops 19 spots

Luke Donald was rolling. Just a day earlier, in fact, this year’s European Ryder Cup captain was being asked whether he would pick himself to play in the biannual event.

“1975 I think the last time that happened,” Donald said. “No, we are a long way from that.”

On the former point, he was slightly off.: The last playing captain for either the Americans or the Europeans was Arnold Palmer for the U.S. in 1963. (Europe has never had one, though Dai Rees played and captained for Team Great Britain in 1961.) And then there’s the latter point, and though one hole or shot does not make a player, his sequence during Friday’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship second round wasn’t becoming.

“Well, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Luke Donald do anything like that in my life,” a Golf Channel analyst said.

Possibly not, though he was in a tough spot on the 204-yard, par-5 17th at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, albeit it was of his own doing. His tee shot was some 30 yards short of the flag, and his ball settled into a small patch of fairway ahead of the upslope of the green.

Should he chip? Should he putt? Donald is an expert here, though gauging a 90-foot putt through undulations and two types of grass is demanding.

“So that’s going to be very tricky,” an analyst said on the broadcast. “But we know how good he is on those shots.”

“Think he might have to chip that one,” another analyst said.

“Yeah, definitely going to have to chip it,” another analyst said. “It’s a miscue.”

Donald putted.

And his ball rolled past the hole.

And off the green.

And into a back greenside bunker. He was now 36 feet away.

“Oh dear. No, surely not,” one analyst said on the broadcast.

“Well, that was extraordinary from Luke Donald,” another analyst said. “Very good chipping, and he must not have fancied it because that’s a disaster.”

“He’s had his up-and-down times, but that was remarkable, wasn’t it?” another analyst said. “Completely misjudged with the putter.”

From there, Donald failed to get out of the bunker with his third shot, escaped with his fourth and two-putted for a triple-bogey six. He had started the hole tied for third and two strokes behind two leaders Francesco Molinari and Guido Migliozzi, and Donald walked to 18 five back of the top and tied for 22nd.

On the closing hole, he parred, and he signed for a three-over 75, one day after a 64.

“Could be worse — what a career he’s had,” an announcer said on the broadcast as Donald played the 18th. “He really has been sensational.”

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