Luke Donald lacked finishing touch

Updated: September 6, 2010, 10:39 PM ET
By Scott Barboza | ESPNBoston.com

NORTON, Mass. -- On the green of the par-4 13th hole, Luke Donald came within in an eyelash of sinking a 50-plus-foot putt.

At that time during Monday's final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, Donald was at 18-under. If he'd made the putt, the birdie would have moved him to the top of the leaderboard, ahead of winner-to-be Charley Hoffman.

[+] EnlargeLuke Donald
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesAfter a strong start, Luke Donald lost his momentum after the 13th hole and settled for a 69 to tie for second.

Donald saved par by tapping in the follow-up, but it was what came after that undid his chances at taking the top spot on the second leg of the FedEx Cup.

"You can't expect to make 50-footers, which I had on 13, but it was close," said Donald, who started strong with three birdies on the first six holes. "I was just a little bit out of position on the back nine. I never really got the ball in play enough. I knew it was going to be tough to get myself a lot of birdie opportunities."

After Donald's brush with greatness on 13, he went on to bogey the next three holes, all but dashing any thoughts of keeping pace with Hoffman. Donald finished his round with a 2-under 69 and tied for second with Geoff Ogilvy and Jason Day at 17-under for the tournament.

"I got off to a great start, but I just didn't play quite solid enough from nine onward," Donald said. "I wasn't getting it on the fairway enough and, with the greens getting firmer, it was just tough to put the ball anywhere near the hole. I was having some birdie putts, but from 40 feet, and then obviously missed some short ones on 14, 15 and 16.

"But Charley played a phenomenal round and he would've been hard to catch indeed."

Hoffman closed with a 62 for a 22-under total.

Even with the missed opportunities Donald left behind on the back nine, he improved his position in the FedEx Cup standings, moving from 17th place to fifth with his sixth top-10 finish of the season.

"There were some positives out of this week -- four rounds in the 60s," Donald said. "It was all-in-all a solid week."

He has something else to look forward to at next weekend's BMW Championship at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill. -- his bed. The Englishman attended Northwestern and now calls Chicago home.

"I get to sleep in my own bed and be home, which is nice," Donald said. "I always have a good support group there, and have family and friends come out and watch me. It'll be fun week."

Day labored

Jason Day entered the final round with a one-stroke lead. He had held the 54-hole lead two other times on the PGA Tour, including this year's Byron Nelson Championship, which he won.

But, after finishing with an even-par 71, all he could do was watch Hoffman run away.

"Overall, I'm disappointed with how I played today," Day said. "But I tied for second, I can't be too angry. I'm just looking forward to next week, and hopefully, I can do a little bit better."

He said it doesn't matter to him whether he's playing with a lead or from behind. But, as Hoffman made his charge, Day admitted to glancing back at the leaderboard.

"My goal today was to minimize my mistakes, give myself as many opportunities as possible," Day said. "And I thought that if I could shoot 4-under, 21-under would have it. You just really can't do anything about Charley. He obviously just played unbelievable."

Stricker strikes out

No one has repeated as champion of the Deutsche Bank. However, 2009 champion Steve Stricker entered the final round within striking distance, tied for fourth thanks to three bogey-free rounds.

But that streak was snapped when the Wisconsin native bogeyed the first hole.

Stricker finished ninth at 13-under 271 and fell from second to third in the FedEx Cup standings.

Tiger tracks

While Tiger Woods' Ryder Cup status will not be confirmed to the world until Tuesday morning, he does leave the Deutsche Bank with three things certain:

• He registered three consecutive rounds in the 60s for the first time this season, finishing with a 3-under 68 on Monday.

• He will hold on to the No. 1 world ranking with Phil Mickelson putting up a 5-over 76 on Monday to finish tied at 25th.

• Perhaps most important, Woods will move on to the BMW Championships. He entered the Deutsche Bank on the bubble, but finished tied for 11th at 10-under 274.

"Well, I've just got to keep playing well," Woods said. "Winning takes care of everything -- the world rankings, Player of the Year awards, all the trophies and things that come with it. That only happens when you win.

"Most of my career I've been able to do that and I just haven't done it this year."

Scott Barboza

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
Scott Barboza joined ESPNBoston.com as a high schools editor/reporter in May 2010. He spent the previous three seasons working in the New England Patriots media relations department after a stint at the Taunton Daily Gazette, where he covered everything from Little League baseball to the Boston Red Sox.

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