There may be 57 players in the field at the Dubai World Championship, but Luke Donald is only concerned with one. Rory McIlroy is the lone player who can prevent Donald from winning the Race to Dubai money title.
McIlroy and Donald were paired together for the first round of the season finale. On Thursday, the former won by a half-dozen shots.
After his opening round of even-par 72, Donald reflected on the match-play feel of playing with his only true monetary pursuer.
'It's hard not to see it as match play, but try and concentrate on myself and that's what I'll be doing here on out,' Donald said.
As McIlroy went on a back-nine tear, shooting 30, Donald struggled off the tee. The U.S. Open champion and world No. 1 swapped momentum at the turn. Donald said he had to put that out of his mind.
'Well, obviously he had a great back nine. He got the putter working. He was holing some putts from everywhere, and playing nice golf. So again, I can't really concentrate on what Rory is doing. I've got to kind of take care of my own business,' he said.
McIlroy is in third place after the first round, two back of leader Peter Hanson. He must win and hope Donald finishes no better than ninth in order to capture the Race to Dubai crown. Donald is currently tied for 26th.
'The good news is this is two shots better than I was in the first round last year and I still finished ninth there,' Donald said.