Donald eagerly starts 19th pro year, 30 years since he first teed-up in Dubai

Fatiha Betscher
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Luke Donald (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Fatiha Betscher

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Luke Donald heads into a 19th year in the pro competition ranks with the victorious Ryder Cup captain ending a three-month competition break at this week’s inaugural Dubai Invitational in Dubai.

As well, Donald revealed it’s the 30th anniversary of when he first teed-up in Dubai, as a then 21-year-old in contesting  the 1994 Dubai Amateur Championship at this week’s host Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, just a year after the course was officially opened.

Yes, a lot of numbers but then the recently-turned 46-year-old tees-up with one number in mind and that’s ending a 20-year and two month drought in capturing what would be his 18th pro career victory.

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“Yes, this is my 19th year on the DP World Tour”, said Donald.  “It was 2001 when I turned professional so it’s been even more than that as a professional.

“I turned 46 in December, so you feel the body doesn’t work quite as well. But I still enjoy coming out and competing and trying my best against some of these great young players. It’s not easy but I love competing”.

Donald has not travelled to a golf tournament with his clubs for company since sharing 29th place at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

And as the current World No. 368th ranked golfer heads into his 197th DP World Tour event, Donald spoke of getting back into individual competition.

“I was trying to do the math in my head this morning. It’s been 115 days since my last competitive shot, which was the Sunday at Wentworth”, he said.

“I haven’t taken a break that long in a long time. I used to take a couple months off when the seasons were a little bit different, 10, 12 years ago. Maybe put the clubs away for a month or two.

“But you know, this was a good, long break. Got to spend some good time with the family, and yeah, but ready to get going again.

“So, my preparation is slightly different. I have to be a little bit more efficient because it’s just the way my body is. I just can’t grind out there six, seven hours a day. So try to be a bit more efficient with my time. But do enough where I feel like, you know, I’m sharp and I’m ready to compete.

“Again, I feel like most parts of my game just need a little bit of work here and there, and the rest kind of takes care of itself”.

As mentioned, Donald was first in Dubai in 1994 though it wasn’t until 2009 when he first visited Dubai as a professional, that being the inaugural Dubai World Championship at the Jumeirah Estates.

“I first came to Dubai I think in ’94. I played the Dubai Amateur. I was 17 years old. It was somewhere around here, the Creek, I believe”, he said.

“It was a little bit different then. I don’t recall what it looked like back then but it’s great to be back.

“It’s great to be back, and you know, it’s always — you are always treated to perfect weather, perfect conditions, and it’s nice to play kind of a different event this week. You know, the sort of Pro-Am feeling, smaller number of people on a new course where I think all of the players are quite excited to get going”.

And being back inside the ropes this week, it was an opportune time for the media to ask Donald more about his decision to take-on the 2025 European Ryder Cup Captaincy role for Bethpage.

“Yeah, I mean, day one when I announced early December that I was going to do it again, I already had some thoughts in my head about how we can give the team the best opportunity to repeat in New York”, said Donald

“It’s going to be a very different challenge and it will take some different approaches because of that. But I’m excited. I’m excited because it is going to be a lot more difficult, a lot more difficult away from home.

“But I’ve got plenty of time to kind of work some things out and start thinking about things. You know, I think I’m — yeah, I’m still optimistic that I can give the guys a good opportunity to try and win away, which is not easy to do”.

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