Luke Donald scored two shots better on Friday (2-under 68) with a fill-in caddie than he did with his regular looper on the bag in Thursday’s opening round.
The world No. 1 said on Twitter that he was letting John McLaren take a break from his duties to “welcome his 1st child into the world.” Taking McLaren’s spot on Donald’s bag was Gareth Lord, the regular luggage handler for Robert Karlsson, who cited “bad habits” in his game as the reason for withdrawing from this week’s major.
Lord and Donald teamed up at last year’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney World, where Donald ran up six consecutive birdies on the back nine on his way to a 64 and the win, which led to his becoming the only golfer to clinch the money titles on the PGA and European Tours in the same season.
Friday, Donald made five birdies, including three in a row on his front nine, and told Sky Sports he told McLaren to “not to rush” his return.
"For me that was an important thing in my life to be around for [the birth of a child], especially your first one, and enjoy that experience,” Donald said. "But I know what he's like. He's very passionate about his job, as well, and he'll get back here when he's ready.”
Turns out that Donald, McLaren, and Lord were rooming together this week so when Karlsson withdrew his bagman was available.
“It worked out well and obviously I’ve got some history with Lordy, having caddied for me at Disney,” Donald said, “so it was an easy transition.”
With Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, and the rest of the afternoon wave early into their rounds, Donald was in a share of ninth place -- eight shots back of clubhouse leader Brandt Snedeker.
In the meantime, McLaren’s wife Helen gave birth on Thursday.
“Congratulations John & Helen on your new arrival Georgina Elizabeth,” Donald tweeted.