Donald skipping Middle East events for early U.S. start

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LA QUINTA, Calif. – Luke Donald has traded one desert for another.

For the first time in his career, the Englishman is playing this week’s Humana Challenge and passing on the traditional Middle East swing events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the European Tour.

“In previous years Northern Trust [Open] has been kind of my first event of the year and I feel like I’m getting left behind a little bit,” Donald said.

Donald also played last week’s Sony Open for the first time since 2010, but unlike Paul Casey, who announced last week he’d given up his European Tour membership, Donald said he will maintain his status on both circuits, but it won’t be easy.

“[The Middle East tournaments] were a nice couple of two or three events to get out of the way and you’re kind of almost done with your 13 [event minimum for European membership],” Donald said.

That numbers game will be compounded by the fact that Donald also will not play the WGC-Match Play Championship in May in order to attend his brother’s wedding.

“He set his wedding date before the tournament decided to change the date,” Donald said. “I did joke with him that I would definitely be at his second wedding, but he didn’t find that too funny.”