Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 1 October 2020

Organisers consider change of course; past is present for Luke Donald

The organisers of the DP World Tour Championship said they would contemplate staging the season-ending event on the Fire Course in the future, and Luke Donald opens with an odd nod to his glory days.
England's Luke Donald was a rolling back the years during the opening round at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Paul Childs / Reuters
England's Luke Donald was a rolling back the years during the opening round at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Paul Childs / Reuters

 Course change

The organisers of the DP World Tour Championship said they would contemplate staging the season-ending event on the Fire Course in the future. The finale to the Race to Dubai has been played on the Earth Course since its inception, when Lee Westwood won both the tournament and the Order of Merit in 2009. However, a switch to the other 18-hole set up on the same site in the future is a possibility. “If the Fire Course can deliver it, then why not?” said Julian Small, the managing director of club operations at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

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 Past is present

Luke Donald may still be some way off the form of his 2011 pomp, when he was the leading player on both the European and the United States tours. His opening round did at least make the odd nod to the glory days, though. The former world No 1 birdied six of the first seven holes, before he ended on three-under par. And in another blast from the past, his brother Christian was even back carrying his bag. “It was nice to spend a week with my brother,” said Donald, who recently parted company with his regular caddie. “It felt like old times.”

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 Make the most of it

Sergio Garcia’s decision to skip this week might have deprived the Dubai galleries the chance to see one of the Tour’s most recognisable players, but it has worked in favour of one of his Spanish compatriots. The top-60 players on the money-list qualify to play in this tournament, but the absence of Garcia through choice and George Coetzee through injury left room for 61-ranked Stephen Gallacher and 62-ranked Alejandro Canizares. Canizares made the most of his chance with a four-under-par 68.

 Man at work

Henrik Stenson has left himself some work to do if he is to complete a hat-trick of titles in this competition.

The former resident of The Meadows in Dubai had flown in all his family this week, including his parents, who became lucky charms when he won this tournament for the past two years. They might have been alarmed by what they witness in Round 1, however. The Swede played the final four holes in five-over to card an opening 77, leaving him tied-last in the 60-man field with Tommy Fleetwood and Scott Hend.

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Updated: November 19, 2015 04:00 AM

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