Skip to main content

Donald on the brink of history in Dubai

updated 11:22 AM EST, Sat December 10, 2011
England's world No. 1 Luke Donald moved up to fourth in the third round of the Dubai World Championship on Saturday.
England's world No. 1 Luke Donald moved up to fourth in the third round of the Dubai World Championship on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luke Donald poised to make history by winning European Tour's Race to Dubai
  • World No. 1 moves up to fourth at Dubai World Championship as closest rival drops back
  • Rory McIlroy needs to win $7.5 million tournament to have any chance of stopping Donald
  • Northern Irishman goes into the final round six shots behind leader Alvaro Quiros of Spain

(CNN) -- Rory McIlroy says the Race to Dubai is over, but Luke Donald is taking nothing for granted as he bids to become the first golfer to top both the European and U.S. money lists in the same season on Sunday.

Saturday's opening nine holes could prove crucial in the year-long battle, as world No. 1 Donald picked up four birdies to surge up the leaderboard at the Dubai World Championship, while second-ranked McIlroy dropped three shots to slide in the other direction.

"It's over -- definitely. And Luke deserves it," McIlroy conceded after his one-under-par 71 left him tied for eighth ahead of the final round, six shots behind leader Alvaro Quiros.

Donald, who will make history by finishing ninth even if McIlroy bounces back to win the $7.5 million event, moved up to fourth with a 66 that put him four shots adrift of the pacesetting Spaniard.

Tiger holds no terror for golf's new stars

"I would be foolish to think it's over," said the Englishman, who clinched the PGA Tour money list with victory in the final event in October. "Tomorrow it will be just like any other day in terms of my focus.

Who will be the golf star of 2012?
Remembering Seve Ballesteros

"It will be on trying to catch whoever is the leader and trying to win the tournament. I'm not going to count on anything. But if it all works out, tomorrow night will be fun -- it would be a pretty amazing feat. It's history."

McIlroy, who needs to claim the €922,645 first prize to have any chance of overhauling Donald, bogeyed the third hole and suffered a double at the par-five seventh after hooking into a bush.

But the 22-year-old recovered once his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, arrived at Jumeirah Golf Estates' Earth Course to watch the second half of his third round as he birdied 11, 12, 16 and 18.

"I'm tired. I'm very tired," said the U.S. Open champion, who has been suffering from a mystery illness which is suspected to be a mild case of Dengue fever.

"But I don't want to say that's the cause of playing the way I did on the front nine because I came back. I'm not 100%, but that should not stop me. I was trying to stay patient and hit good shots, but I just couldn't do it.

"Luke has played well all year and I expect him to have another solid round. I don't think he's been given enough credit for the golf he's played, but from within the golfing family I am sure he will receive a lot of plaudits."

Quiros is seeking to clinch his second title in the emirate this year, having won the Dubai Desert Classic in February when McIlroy fell away in the final round.

"I'm still leading the tournament, even though the day wasn't the best one," said the world No. 52, who saw his four-shot halfway advantage cut to two by Scotland's Paul Lawrie

If it all works out, tomorrow night will be fun -- it would be a pretty amazing feat. It's history
Luke Donald

"I'm still hitting good shots and good putts, so this is the only thing that matters."

Quiros -- Europe's longest hitter for the fourth time in five seasons -- bogeyed the final hole, which he eagled on Friday, to sign for a 70 and be 14-under 202.

Lawrie eagled 18 as he picked up five shots in the last six holes to card 66 and be one shot clear of fellow former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

The South African also shot 66, eagling the seventh hole as Quiros did, to be one ahead of Donald.

Italy's Francesco Molinari (68) was tied for fifth with Ireland's Shane Lowry (68) and Sweden's Peter Hanson (71) on 207.

Germany's Martin Kaymer, the race to Dubai winner last year and third overall so far in 2011, also eagled the 18th as he fired a flawless 64.

The former world No. 1 was tied with McIlroy, Spain's Sergio Garcia (68), South Africa's 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (68) and Englishmen Paul Casey (70) and Robert Rock (71).

Lee Westwood, the inaugural Race to Dubai winner when he overhauled McIlroy in the standings after winning this tournament in 2009, was tied for 16th on 211 after a second successive 69.

The top 15 finishers of the 60-man field will earn a share of the $7.5 million bonus pool.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EST, Sun December 11, 2011
Luke Donald becomes the first golfer in history to top the money list in both Europe and the United States in the same calendar year.
updated 2:15 PM EST, Fri December 9, 2011
In these difficult economic times, it seems almost obscene that 60 men will be battling for a share of $15 million this weekend.
updated 12:23 PM EST, Fri December 9, 2011
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy reveals that he might be battling a tropical disease after his bid to become Europe's top golfer falters at the end of his second round on Friday.
updated 6:08 PM EST, Fri December 9, 2011
In April, a dejected Rory McIlroy slumped away from Augusta National after suffering one of the most dramatic final-round collapses in the sport's history.
updated 11:49 AM EST, Thu December 8, 2011
Living Golf looks back at a strong year for both world No. 2 Rory McIlroy and top-ranked Luke Donald.
updated 10:59 AM EST, Thu December 8, 2011
Rory McIlroy hits an approach shot during his first round six-under-par 66 in Dabai.
Rory McIlroy boosted his hopes of being crowned European No.1 with a six-under-par 66 Thursday in the first round of the Dubai World Championship.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Thu December 8, 2011
World No. 1 Luke Donald has set his sights on winning his first major in 2012, ahead of a weekend which could see him make history in Dubai.
updated 8:59 AM EST, Wed December 7, 2011
The European Tour season will come to an end in Dubai this weekend, with golf's top two players going head-to-head in the 2011 money-list battle.
updated 6:47 AM EST, Thu December 8, 2011
2010 PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer looks to add to his trophy case. Shane O'Donoghue reports.
updated 1:35 PM EST, Sun December 4, 2011
Rory McIlroy kept alive his hopes of winning the European Tour's Race to Dubai with a thrilling victory in the Hong Kong Open on Sunday.
ADVERTISEMENT