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Donald sets Dubai pace
Luke Donald, a winner in Japan last Sunday, became the man to catch again today after a sparkling start to the £6million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The first event to feature all 12 of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes since their triumph in Chicago in September saw Donald race to seven under par after just 14 holes.
He led the European Tour's final event of the season by one from Scot Marc Warren and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, while world number one Rory McIlroy - uncatchable at the top of the circuit's money list - stood two under after 11 holes.
Donald birdied the fifth, seventh and eighth to turn in 33, started for home with two more, made a 15-footer at the short 13th and only just missed an eagle attempt at the 626-yard 14th.
Warren is making his first appearance at the event since it moved to the Middle East in 2009 and his day began with a "mad rush" to find his waterproofs after stepping outside his hotel and seeing heavy rain - 20mms of it in two hours - but it soon cleared up and he had perfect conditions for his round.
His last victory was in 2007 and he blew a great chance at his home Scottish Open in July, dropping four shots in the last four holes to lose by one, just like Adam Scott at The Open the following week.
The tournament is limited to the top 60 money-winners on the circuit, but only 56 teed off. Thomas Bjorn and Retief Goosen were out injured, Ross Fisher is preparing for next week's PGA Tour qualifying school in California, and this morning Ireland's Shane Lowry withdrew after going down with a virus that even put him on a drip in hospital for a while.
The field were sent out in reverse money list order, meaning McIlroy - with the number one spot on both sides of the Atlantic already in the bag - was last out with Swede Peter Hanson. The Northern Irishman got up and down from a bunker at the long second, but had to wait until the 10th green for his next birdie.
Sergio Garcia, returning after eye surgery to correct an astigmatism following the Ryder Cup, managed only a 73 and Ian Poulter was on the same one-over mark after mixing four birdies with five bogeys in his first 12 holes.
Joint fourth with 67s were Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Richie Ramsay and Fredrik Andersson Hed, while Lee Westwood, winner on the Earth course in 2009, stood three under after 15.