Luke Donald admits he headed into DP World Tour Championship in relaxed mood
Last Updated: 23/11/12 6:35am
Luke Donald: In a relaxed frame of mind in Dubai this year
In stark contrast to last year, Luke Donald admitted he has been able to take a relaxed approach to this week's DP World Tour Championship.
Twelve months ago the Englishman headed to Dubai knowing he that he would need a top-nine finish to complete an historic money-list double should Rory McIlroy win the tournament.
In the event McIlroy finished in a tie for 11th as he failed to capitalise on a strong start, meaning Donald wrapped up the Race to Dubai crown with something to spare.
With McIlroy having already matched Donald's achievement by topping the money-list on both sides of the Atlantic this season, not so much is riding on the outcome of this year's tournament - a fact not lost on Donald after he posted an opening 65 to assume the early lead.
"I'm not sure I enjoyed it last year, it was quite pressure-packed even though I had a bit of a lead - I felt Rory's presence behind me," he told Sky Sports.
"This week it's a little bit more relaxed, I'm just playing to try and win this tournament. I guess that was my focus last year as well, but in the back of my mind I had a few other distractions."
Donald's flawless 65 featured seven birdies and he added: "I felt like I couldn't miss. I hit some really good irons shots too and it's fun when it seems that easy."
McIlroy on song again
McIlroy maintained his impeccable form this season to end the day just one stroke behind Donald after a back-nine charge.
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"I made a couple of crucial up-and-downs which kept the round going and then I just holed a few putts on the back nine and got it together which was nice," stated the World No.1.
McIlroy acknowledged his prodigious length off the tee also helped at the Earth Course which measures in at nearly 7,700 yards.
"There's a few bunkers here at 300 (yards) in the middle of the fairway and I'm able to clear them which I feel gives me a big advantage on this golf course," he added.
"I think I drove the ball beautifully today with the exception of 18 and I feel if I can continue to drive it like that I'll have a good chance."