By Sportsmail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 14:44 EST, 26 May 2012 | UPDATED: 14:47 EST, 26 May 2012
Luke Donald is on course to retain his BMW PGA Championship title - and to return to world number one - after a nightmare day for overnight leader James Morrison in front of family and friends at Wentworth.
Four clear after a sparkling second round 64, the world number 236 crashed to an 81 and will go into the closing 18 holes an amazing eight strokes behind.
While local man Morrison had a quadruple bogey eight, a triple bogey eight and three bogeys on his card, Donald showed his class with a 69 - the joint best round of the day in the windy conditions.
Leading the way: Donald
Needing only a top eight finish to take the number one spot back off Rory McIlroy, who opened the door by missing a second successive cut, the 34-year-old is now 11 under par and two ahead of Justin Rose.
Donald is trying to follow Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only players to make a successful defence of the European Tour's flagship event.
Faldo did it in 1980 and 1981, while Montgomerie had three wins in a row from 1998 to 2000.
Former England Youth cricketer Morrison, whose only win on the circuit was in the relatively minor Madeira Islands Open in his rookie season two years ago, knew it was going to be a test for him.
'I desperately, desperately, desperately want to keep going forward,' he had said. 'I expect a lot, but if I shoot 80 or 65 I'll take what I can from it.'
He could never have expected things to unravel as they did, however.
Falling apart: Morrison had a terrible day
After a bogey on the first, where he bunkered his approach, he went out of bounds with his second on the long fourth and ran up his first eight.
That alone was enough to take him out of the lead, but the collapse continued.
He bogeyed the next and on the 391-yard eighth went from trees to water for a quadruple bogey that was matched by playing partner David Drysdale, himself twice in the lake.
The Scot had been joint leader at that point, but that was the start of a horrible slide for him too. He finished with a 78.
Donald plotted his way around like the expert he now is, gathering birdies at the first two par fives and then going two clear at the 13th.
Peter Lawrie was the man out in front with them by then, but as the Dubliner hit into the trees and bogeyed Donald fired in an iron to six feet and picked up another shot.
He did bogey the 15th after driving into a ditch, but salvaged a par on the long 17th after going in the trees and hitting an on-course television reporter with his next shot.
Losing his way: Lawrie
Then, to nobody's surprise, he laid up short of the water on the last, pitched to 18 feet and made it.
Rose, who played with Donald the first two days and admired his ability to bounce straight back from trouble, and Ian Poulter were the only others to break 70.
Lawrie is in third spot on seven under after a 72, while joint fourth are former Open champion Paul Lawrie and South African trio Branden Grace, Richard Sterne and Ernie Els - the latter livid with the lack of watering on the course he re-designed.
Donald said: 'The tougher the better. The good players that can be patient and deal with it are always going to rise to the top usually.'
The US Open is generally regarded as the hardest of all the majors and with it coming up in just over a fortnight Donald said this week was "good prep.
'That was by far my best round of the three. The swing was swirling and I hit a lot of solid shots.
'There were a couple of loose ones coming down the stretch, but I'm very pleased with that finish - it was hugely important for me.
'Physically and mentally it was tough and it's going to be a grind tomorrow.'
Rose, who could move to a career-high fifth in the world by winning, commented: 'I'm delighted. It was one of those where I realise how good a round it was until I saw that the course had taken its toll.
'There were some borderline holes, as there are at US Opens and on Sundays, but I sort of relished the challenge. It takes all your experience and patience and it certainly tested me.'
Headlines Newsview all
Amanda Holden at the centre of Twitter backlash as she sends daughter to school dressed as Pretty Woman prostitute for fancy dress day
A parenting group has slammed TV star Amanda Holden for posting a picture of her nine-year-old daughter 'dressed as a prostitute' online.The Britain's Got Talent ... Full story
Grandmother filmed confronting militants and branding them 'devils' before quoting verses in the Koran that forbid slaughter
An incredible video has emerged showing the moment an elderly woman bravely confronted two Islamic State militants, telling them their terror group is cursed and ... Full story
Jobseeker shocked to be sent rudest rejection email ever calling him an 'old, aesthetically challenged professional pr*** with no teeth'
A jobseeker was shocked after he was branded as 'irritating', 'rude' and 'obnoxious' in a cutting email accidentally sent to him by a prospective employer.James ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- Vladimir Putin dispatches warship to Mediterranean after Turkey crisis amid war fears
- Instagram food bloggers Bunday Burgers slammed by The Beaufort for 'racist' post
- Lord Ashdown links Tories to 'rich Arabs' who fund the ISIS jihadists
Russia warns of 'serious consequences' after Nato country downs Russian military jet for first time since 1953Two pilots were reportedly shot dead by Syrian rebels as ...
A restaurant has slammed a group of burger reviewers on Instagram 'Burger Bunday' went to try out food at The Beaufort in Carlton, MelbourneAfter the feed, ...
Lord Ashdown said 'rich businessmen' in Gulf countries are funding terrorAlso said nations like Saudi Arabia haven't been fighting hard against ISISClaims David Cameron must ...
The 24-year-old alleges he was underpaid by $7,000 over three months Rafael Colobon spoke on ABC's 7.30 about a ‘sham contracting’ schemeMr Colobon cannot now afford ...
Two men died after concrete slab fell on them at construction site in PerthMen are believed to have died instantly just after 11.30am on WednesdayEmergency ...
Massive bushfires burning near Mallala, north of Adelaide, South AustraliaFirefighters have received burns while trying to contain the blazesAnother major fire burning near Lameroo, 200km about ...
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to consider paid domestic violence leaveOpposition Leader Bill Shorten supports five days of paid leaveConcerns for small businesses who can't afford ...
Australian actress Bindi Irwin has won Dancing with the Stars U.S. The 17-year-old took home the coveted trophy after stellar performanceBindi became a household name due ...
Georgia Davis, 22, is said to have found love with Matthew Takel, 43She announced on Facebook that she is 'in a relationship' this weekMiss Davis ...
At least 40,000 households could be facing Thanksgiving without any electricity as temperatures plungeGusts of more than 50mph battered the coast, knocking down trees and ...