Luke Donald scoffs at Ryder Cup suggestion after GOING LOW in Abu Dhabi

Ryder Cup Europe captain Luke Donald took the early lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour at Yas Links.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 19 Jan 2023
Luke Donald scoffs at Ryder Cup suggestion after GOING LOW in Abu Dhabi

Luke Donald dismissed the idea he would be playing in the Ryder Cup after taking the early lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour. 

Donald only made one bogey at Yas Links on his way to an opening round of 8-under 64

The Ryder Cup Europe captain has a one-stroke lead over Italy's Guido Migliozzi - who has just signed for TaylorMade - and Australia's Jason Scrivener. 

There was a strong showing from the players hoping to be on Donald's team in Rome, with Shane Lowry (67), Tommy Fleetwood (68) and Seamus Power (66) all starting well. 

Related: Jon Rahm believes LIV players will be banned from Ryder Cup

The man who Donald replaced as captain - Henrik Stenson - shot an opening round of 68. 

Stenson later told the media he believes LIV Golf players will prevail in next month's court showdown against the DP World Tour. 

The Swede insisted he was having fun on his first start on the European-based circuit since being relieved of his Ryder Cup duties. 

But for Donald, he doesn't think it was surprising that he went low on day one.

Donald carded five consecutive birdies from No. 6 at the Rolex Series event, carrying a prize purse of $9m.  

He told the media: 

"I actually came into this year with higher expectations than I had in a while just for my own game. You know when you're swinging reasonably well.
"I feel like I've done some good work on my long game with Jamie Gough, and I've done some good work with my short game with Pat Goss. And to be honest, I feel like my game is in a pretty good spot.
"It's not totally surprising that I shot 64 today. I went out there, again, last couple days, I've been hitting it nicely, swinging well, and it was nice to carry that on today." 

So, could we potentially see Donald teeing it up at the Marco Simone Golf & Country club in September? 

Donald joked: 

"[It was in] 1975 I think the last time that happened. No, we are a long way from that." 

As many as nine LIV Golf players are playing this week. 

Lee Westwood, who is playing his 30th season on tour, opened up with a 3-under par 69. Ian Poulter - who says he may now snub the Ryder Cup even if he qualifies - carded an opening 71. 

Leaderboard after round one:

L. Donald -8

G. Migliozzi, J. Scrivener -7

S. Power -6

M. Kawamura, S. Sharma, S. Lowry, S. Valimaki, S. Soderberg, E. Molinari, F. Molinari -5

T. Fleetwood -4

Next page: Sir Nick Faldo lands new DP World Tour job