Lee Westwood maintained his daily average of six birdies at windy Wentworth today – but once again paid a big price for one bad shot.
After going out of bounds on the 17th in his second round 75 the world number three, who survived the halfway cut with nothing to spare in the BMW PGA Championship, ran up another seven on the 470-yard 13th.
It might have been worse. He sank a 30-foot putt for a triple bogey after driving into sand, failing to get out, taking a penalty drop and then leaving it in again.
He followed that, however, by almost winning a car for a hole-in-one on the next.
“I think it lipped out,” said Westwood after a two under par 70 left him deep in the pack at one under par, 11 behind surprise overnight leader James Morrison
“But I’ve just got a destructive one in there. It’s a bit of a pull hook and it’s my bad shot when I’m not swinging well.
“I’m a bit tired – I’ve played a lot this year already.”
He has made three trips to America, one to the Middle East for three events and another to Indonesia to make it 12 events so far, three more than number one Rory McIlroy and two more than second-ranked Donald.
Westwood, though, is sticking to his plan of playing in Sweden the week after next before going straight from there to San Francisco for the US Open.
“I’ve not found the right way to prepare for a major yet, so I might as well keep trying different ones,” added the 39-year-old, whose third place finish at The Masters was his fourth top three in his last eight majors.
This is Westwood’s 19th attempt to win the European Tour’s flagship event and he came in with high hopes after losing a play-off to Donald last year.
But his 18 birdies in three days – he would take that most weeks – have been offset by eight bogeys, three doubles and the triple.
He was also not helped today by missing three times from inside five feet on greens that are again causing most players a lot of problems.
“Unique,” was his diplomatic descriptions for them before saying: “I think it’s a bit early for England.
“You’d like to see a bit more of a growing season. You’re fighting it a bit.”
His 70 was among the best rounds of the early starters, but Ian Poulter had the chance to do better when he turned in a three under 32 and after a bogey at the 10th birdied the next two.
Poulter dropped another stroke at the 15th, however, and at three under for the tournament was still only 23rd.
Westwood's birdie-birdie finish was something former Open champion Ben Curtis would have loved to emulate - instead he finished triple bogey eight, triple bogey eight.
That gave the American an 81 and 10 over aggregate, while South African James Kingston came home in a 10 over 47 for a round of 85 and 14 over total.
Course re-designer Ernie Els, though, birdied the fourth and sixth and with that moved into a tie for 14th on five under.
Poulter parred the last three for a 69 that was the best round of the day so far, but whether his three under total put him back into contention depended on Morrison.
He resumed four clear, but that became three when he hit his second shot into sand and failed to get up and down.
Drysdale parred it, Donald started with two pars in a row and it became a four-way tie for second when Alvaro Quiros birdied the first and fellow Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello picked up shots on the second and third.
Poulter said: “I played lovely – really, really nicely. The course is playing very, very tough. It’s the hardest wind and it’s gusting.”
Els remained five under after 11 and had the chance to post a score that would almost certainly give him a chance going into the final round of an event he has not won in 16 attempts – and this on a lay-out where he collected a record seven World Match Play titles.
Morrison's advantage was down to two when Drysdale, himself only 291st in the world, birdied the short second to climb to nine under.
Justin Rose, meanwhile, birdied two of the first four, but bogeyed the other two and so was six under.