The Loop

When the line between very good and great is indistinguishable

June 18, 2011

BETHESDA, Md. -- Rory McIlroy is the world's No. 8-ranked player. Luke Donald is No. 1. Asked how thin the line is between 1 and 8, Donald had to smile. "Pretty thin," he said.

This thin: No. 1 started Saturday 15 shots behind No. 8. And Donald's third-round 74 didn't seem likely to close the gap. Not when he calls McIlroy "an amazing talent." Not when he says the Masters calamity has been forgotten: "Short-term memory's good in golf." Not when he says, "I see Roy winning lots of times." In fact, with Congressional's conditions so unusually kind for an Open, Donald imagined McIlroy the winner of this tournament. "If he shoots anywhere around par," Donald said, "he should have it in the bag."

-- *Dave Kindred