Thursday, December 08, 2011


PAUL LAWRIE driving his way to the early clubhouse lead in Dubai. Image by courtesy of Getty Images(c)

Paul Lawrie had seven birdies in ten holes to race clear at the start of the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World. He finished with a seven-under 65 to post a challengeing clubhouse target on the opening day.
Only a Rory McIlroy victory in the last event of The European Tour season can stop Luke Donald completing an unprecedented double of money list titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year.
The 1999 Open champion at Carnoustie, Lawrie, who in Spain in March had his first win for nine years, was making his debut in a tournament reserved for the top 60 earners each season and began his run with 15 foot putts on the fifth and sixth.
The Aberdonian then chipped close at the long seventh, made a 30 footer to complete an outward 32 and then collected more birdies at the tenth, 11th and 626 yard 14th.With Donald and McIlroy waiting to tee off, he was three clear of England's Ross Fisher, whose round included an eagle two on the 371 yard 15th.
"I gave myself an awful lot of chances - my iron play was fabulous," said Lawrie, who spent all day Monday working on his game after finishing the UBS Hong Kong Open at the weekend with a five over par 75.
"The flight got in at 4.30am, I went to the hotel for a shower, was on the range by seven and didn't get to the hotel until four or five in the afternoon.
"Sometimes you need a day like that. My boys are 16 and 12 now and I don't want them to see Dad being a poor player.
"I want to be in the top 50 in the world." He is currently 93rd.
The 58-strong field - Justin Rose and Fredrik Jacobson are not playing - was further reduced to 57 when Korean Y E Yang pulled out after four holes with a neck injury.
Dane Thomas Björn has the same problem, but decided to give it a go and parred the first.
The players teed off in reverse order of their Race to Dubai positions in the opening round and that meant Donald and McIlroy, World Number One and World Number Two respectively and top two on The Race to Dubai as well, were last out at 12.30pm local time.
Even if McIlroy wins on Sunday Donald would still take the money list crown with a top nine finish.
Donald did not make the start he was hoping for - and McIlroy most definitely did.
The US Open Champion hit his approach to three feet and birdied, whereas Donald pushed his drive in amongst the bushes and, although lucky to be able to advance it without taking a penalty drop, could not save his par, missing from five feet.
By then Spaniard Alvaro Quiros had joined Fisher in second place, three behind Lawrie, with four birdies in the first eight.
It was already an eventful afternoon for the two Race to Dubai contenders as, on the long second, McIlroy hit a wild second into the trees and the ball could not be found in the permitted five minutes.
He had to go back down the fairway, found sand with his fourth shot and by failing to get up and down a double bogey 7 went on his card.
Donald, in stark contrast again, pitched to three feet and birdied to return to level par, one better than his title rival.
The action-packed duel continued with Donald adding further birdies at the third and fifth from 25 and six feet, but McIlroy had put his second shots to within a yard each time and followed him in.
They were two under and one under respectively, while Lawrie's lead remained three, but now from Fisher, Quiros, Robert Rock, Nicolas Colsaerts and Alex Noren.



Copyright © Colin Farquharson

If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google