Donald, McIlroy in dream two-ball

Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy will go head to head from the word go at this week’s Dubai World Championship.

World No 1 Luke Donald and World No 2 Rory McIlroy will go head to head from the very word go at this week’s season-closing Dubai World Championship.

And there is nothing contrived about it.

In what looks to be a dream climax for the European Tour, the stellar pair have been drawn together in the event’s marque two-ball for the simple reason that Donald was first and McIlroy second on the 60 strong list of players that qualified to play in this week’s European Tour grand finale at the imposing Greg Norman-designed Earth Course at the Jumeirah Estates.

Based on the same principle, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who was in third place coming into this week’s event, has been paired in the second-to-last slot with 2010 PGA Champion Martin Kaymer, the World No 4.

England’s World No 3 Lee Westwood is behind them, paired with Denmark’s Anders Hanson and fellow Dane Thomas Bjorn, a three-time Tour winner this year has been drawn with s two-time winner, Sergio Garcia, in the 4th last group.

At the top of the time sheet, last-gasp qualifiers Christian Nilsson of Sweden is teeing off on front of the field with Scott Jamieson at 11h42 (03h42 GMT) and Hennie Otto, who squeezed his way into the contest by winning the South African Open two weeks ago, is set to go off 10 minutes later with Scotland’s last major winner, Paul Lawrie.

First-round tee-off times for Thursday’s first round of the Dubai World Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, on Thursday are (Gbr and Irl unless stated, all times GMT. Dubai is four hours ahead):
0340 Christian Nilsson (Swe), Scott Jamieson
0350 Hennie Otto (Rsa), Peter Lawrie
0400 Paul Lawrie, James Morrison
0410 Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Rhys Davies
0420 Ernie Els (Rsa), Jaco van Zyl (Rsa)
0430 Ross Fisher, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)
0440 Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Gregory Bourdy (Fra)
0450 Shane Lowry, Edoardo Molinari (Ita)
0500 Thomas Levet (Fra), Robert Karlsson (Swe)
0510 Robert Rock, David Horsey
0525 Johan Edfors (Swe), Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe)
0535 David Lynn, Retief Goosen (Rsa)
0545 Jamie Donaldson, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra)
0555 Paul Casey, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa)
0605 Mark Foster, Matteo Manassero (Ita)
0615 YE Yang (Kor), George Coetzee (Rsa)
0625 Richie Ramsay, Gregory Havret (Fra)
0635 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Michael Hoey
0645 Joost Luiten (Ned), Ian Poulter
0655 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Alvaro Quiros (Spa)
0710 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Pablo Larrazabal (Spa)
0720 Peter Hanson (Swe), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa)
0730 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Graeme McDowell
0740 Alexander Noren (Swe), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa)
0750 Darren Clarke, Simon Dyson
0800 Thomas Bjorn (Den), Sergio Garcia (Spa)
0810 Anders Hansen (Den), Lee Westwood
0820 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Martin Kaymer (Ger)
0830 Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald