ARDMORE, Pa. - Luke Donald has been in enough U.S. Opens to realize that you're not out of one just because you make four bogeys in a row late in the second round, as he did at Merion Golf Club Friday.

Donald, who never has had a top 10 finish in the U.S. Open despite lately having emerged as one of the best players in the world, remained poised after going from the lead at 4 under par to 1 over in a couple hours.

The Englishman simply told himself he had not played so poorly in the bad stretch. He made a birdie on the par-3 ninth hole, his next to last of the day, to finish at par through two rounds. And par is the quintessential target score at an Open.

"You try not to panic in U.S. Opens. You try to take each hole as it comes," he said, adding that he talked this week with David Graham, who won the most recent Open at Merion, in 1981. "I asked him what's the secret. And he said keep it in the short stuff."


Carl Pettersson was in danger of whiffing a shot on the fifth hole Friday morning when a ball from a nearby hole careened into his fairway and hit his ball in the middle of his backswing. He didn't stick around to see whose shot it was. "Luckily, I wasn't in my downswing because if I would have missed the ball, it would have been a . . . I don't know what the ruling would have been. But it might not have been good," he said.

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Hi-ho, Smitty

Jesse Smith, who tied for medalist honors at the Met sectional qualifier last week but missed the cut at 14 over, has famous bloodlines. His father played for the New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association and his great uncle was Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto on "The Lone Ranger" TV series.