Luke Donald shows Ryder Cup hopefuls how it’s done in Abu Dhabi

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Donald played down his chances of becoming a playing captain.
Posted on
January 19, 2023
The Editorial Team in ,
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald showed some of his prospective team members how it should be done with a superb 64 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The former world number one, who is currently ranked 541st, birdied his last four holes and made nine in total at Yas Links to card an opening eight-under-par 64 and set the clubhouse target.

Play in the first round was not completed due to fading light, but Donald ended the day with a one-shot lead over Italy’s Guido Migliozzi and Australia’s Jason Scrivener, with Ireland’s Seamus Power a shot further back.

“Just playing here the last couple days, I felt like there was some low scores out here as long as the wind didn’t blow too hard,” said Donald, whose last top-10 finish worldwide came more than three years ago.

“It just kind of suits my eye. It’s not too tight off the tee. I think you have to pick some good lines. I think you’re going to hit a lot of greens out here because you’re going to hit a lot of fairways, too.

“I putted very nicely today other than one three-putt on the third hole for my only bogey. I think maybe (I was) a little inspired by watching some good golf from last week (at the Hero Cup).”

Donald said his form had not come as a complete surprise after he started November’s Nedbank Challenge with an opening 65 and went on to finish 13th, but played down his chances of becoming a playing captain.

Arnold Palmer was the last man to do so in 1963 and Donald said: “We are a long way from that.”

Luke Donald
Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald made a brilliant start to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (Adam Davy/PA)

Donald took over the captaincy when Henrik Stenson was stripped of the role after joining LIV Golf, despite having signed a contract pledging he would not support or promote other tours.

Stenson is making his first appearance on the DP World Tour since that decision in July and carded an opening 68, with fellow former Open champions Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari among the seven players to shoot 67.

Asked if he regretted his decision, Stenson said: “No, I made my decision and obviously Ryder Cup Europe made theirs. It’s not great but it is what it is, and Ryder Cup has been a huge part of my career.

“I wish Luke all the best with the team going forward and we’ll see where we all end up in the long run with this.”

The PGA Tour has indefinitely suspended members who joined LIV Golf, while the DP World Tour last summer fined players £100,000 and banned them from the Genesis Scottish Open, but saw that temporarily stayed on appeal.

Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson talks to his caddie on the 18th hole during the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

The full case will be heard in early February and will effectively decide if the Tour can sanction the likes of Stenson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.

Asked how he would respond to suggestions that LIV players should not return to the DP World Tour, Stenson said: “The way I look at it, when all of us went to play on the PGA Tour back in the day, we shouldn’t have been welcomed back either then.

“There’s multiple tours in the world and as far as I’m concerned, as long as you fulfil your criteria and earn your right to be there, you should be able to play in as many tournaments as you like.

Round 1 suspended overnight, will restart at 07:40 Friday morning. Round 2 will start as scheduled.

Pos.PlayerThruTo ParR1
1DONALD, LukeF-864
2MIGLIOZZI, GuidoF-765
4POWER, SeamusF-666
5MOLINARI, EdoardoF-567
MOLINARI, FrancescoF-567
KAWAMURA, MasahiroF-567
LOWRY, ShaneF-567
SHARMA, ShubhankarF-567
SÖDERBERG, SebastianF-567
12COETZEE, GeorgeF-468
HARRINGTON, PadraigF-468
LEVY, AlexanderF-468
HILL, CalumF-468
WHITNELL, Dale15-4-
JAMIESON, Scott15-4-
STENSON, HenrikF-468
LEE, Min WooF-468
SYME, ConnorF-468
HANNA, ChaseF-468
23KIEFFER, MaximilianF-369
KINHULT, MarcusF-369
BJØRN, ThomasF-369
OLESEN, ThorbjørnF-369
LIU, Yan Wei16-3-
JORDAN, Matthew15-3-
ROZNER, AntoineF-369
TARRIO, SantiagoF-369
34MERONK, AdrianF-270
CAMPILLO, JorgeF-270
CATLIN, JohnF-270
MACINTYRE, RobertF-270
PAVON, MatthieuF-270
WU, AshunF-270
RAMSAY, RichieF-270
SAMOOJA, KalleF-270
HIDALGO, AngelF-270
44FOX, RyanF-171
LAWRENCE, ThristonF-171
BJÖRK, AlexanderF-171
HØJGAARD, NicolaiF-171
FORREST, GrantF-171
BRUN, JulienF-171
PEREZ, VictorF-171
WALLACE, MattF-171
STRYDOM, OckieF-171
BLAND, Richard16-1-
LAGERGREN, Joakim16-1-
HUNDEBØLL, Oliver15-1-
KJELDSEN, SørenF-171
SHINKWIN, CallumF-171
ARMITAGE, MarcusF-171
MORRISON, JamesF-171
KIMSEY, NathanF-171
65SULLIVAN, AndyFPar72
HATTON, TyrrellFPar72
REED, PatrickFPar72
LAW, DavidFPar72
HILLIER, DanielFPar72
KNAPPE, AlexanderFPar72
ELVIRA, NachoFPar72
WARREN, Marc17Par-
SCHOTT, Freddy15Par-
SOUTHGATE, MatthewFPar72
NOREN, AlexFPar72
84MANSELL, RichardF+173
SMITH, JordanF+173
ARNAUS, AdriF+173
WINTHER, JeffF+173
GREEN, Gavin17+1-
VAN DRIEL, Darius15+1-
PIETERS, ThomasF+173
WARING, PaulF+173
OTAEGUI, AdrianF+173
LUITEN, JoostF+173
BEKKER, OliverF+173
DE JAGER, LouisF+173
NØRGAARD, NiklasF+173
99DU PLESSIS, Hennie17+2-
FAKORI, El Mehdi (AM)16+2-
COCKERILL, Aaron15+2-
WILSON, OliverF+274
ZANOTTI, FabrizioF+274
SCHNEIDER, MarcelF+274
GAVINS, DanielF+274
106HUIZING, DaanF+375
STRAKA, SeppF+375
COLSAERTS, NicolasF+375
NEMECZ, Lukas15+3-
KOFSTAD, Espen15+3-
LOMBARD, ZanderF+375
PAUL, YannikF+375
WANG, JeunghunF+375
VEERMAN, JohannesF+375
116DUBUISSON, VictorF+476
GUERRIER, JulienF+476
LINDBERG, MikaelF+476
120DANTORP, JensF+577
121FISHER, RossF+678
KRUYSWIJK, JacquesF+678
HARDING, Justin15+6-
LONG, HurlyF+678
125ABOU EL ELA, Issa (AM)F+981
126LI, HaotongF+1284
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