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Rory boost as Donald toils

LUKE DONALD was facing a battle to hold on to his world number one ranking after a poor opening round in the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.

Donald needs to finish in the top eight at Harbour Town -- where he lost a play-off to Brandt Snedeker last year -- to remain ahead of Ryder Cup team-mate Rory McIlroy in the rankings.

But the Englishman struggled to a four-over-par 75 to lie eight shots off first-round leaders Chad Campbell, Vaughn Taylor and Colt Knost.

Starting from the 10th, Donald dropped shots at the 12th and 15th to reach the turn in 37.

He then recovered from a bogey on the first with a birdie on the par-five second, but ran up a double-bogey six on the sixth to continue the disappointing form shown in last week's US Masters.

It was a different story for Campbell, who raced to four under through seven holes but could make no further inroads with a pair of bogeys cancelling out two further birdies.

Taylor and Knost, meanwhile, made an impact at the end of their rounds.

Having started at 10, Taylor holed from 103 yards to eagle his last hole, the ninth, while Knost, one of the last to finish, birdied two of his final three holes.

Jim Furyk headed a group of four players on three under, while England's Gary Christian was the leading British challenger after a level-par 71, the same score as defending champion Brandt Snedeker.

Dubliner Pádraig Harrington and Swede Henrik Stenson were two players suffering from Masters hangovers, both returning three-over 74s.

Harrington, who made a late charge for the green jacket last weekend, had one birdie against four bogeys while Stenson, who tumbled from the top of the leaderboard with a quadruple-bogey eight on 18 in the opening round at Augusta, had another disastrous finish with a double-bogey at 13 and bogeys at 15 and 16.

European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal had a slow start to the tournament with three double-bogeys, two bogeys and two birdies for a 77.


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