LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — If No. 1-ranked Luke Donald is finally going to break through and win his first major this weekend, chances are good he'll have to do it with a backup caddie by his side.
The Englishman gave regular bag-toter John McLaren the day off Friday just ahead of the second round of the British Open to be at his wife's bedside for the birth of the couple's first child.
"I won't pay him for today, obviously," joked Donald, who could afford to laugh after shooting 68 with Gareth Lord as his caddie on a tough scoring day at Royal Lytham. "But, you know, he should be around for the birth."
After an opening-round 70, Donald was 2-under at the midway point, trailing leader Brandt Snedeker by eight shots. For all that, things could have been worse.
Donald didn't learn until 6:30 a.m. Friday, about three hours before the scheduled start of his round, that McLaren had to head down to London. Luckily, Lord was sharing a house with the two and luckier still, he was available to work because his boss, Swede Robert Karlsson, had withdrawn from the tournament earlier in the week.
In one last bit of good fortune, Donald and Lord already had already forged a successful, if somewhat brief, partnership. The caddie also happened to be on Donald's bag at Disney last November, when McLaren took the week off to get married.
"He knows my game," Donald said. "It was an easy transition."