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Rory turns up the heat on Luke Donald

US Open champion shot a 30 on the back nine today at the Dubai World Championship to take an early lead on top-ranked Luke Donald for the European money title.

Luke Donald, left, and Rory McIlroy shake hands after they finished the first round of Dubai World Championship earlier.
Luke Donald, left, and Rory McIlroy shake hands after they finished the first round of Dubai World Championship earlier.
Image: Kamran Jebreili/AP/Press Association Images

WELL, THIS COULD get interesting.

US Open champion Rory McIlroy shot a 30 on the back nine today at the Dubai World Championship to take an early lead on top-ranked Luke Donald for the European money title.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman had six birdies on the back nine to finish at six-under 66, two strokes behind leader Peter Hanson. Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie (65) was a shot behind the Swede in second. Sergio Garcia had a 67.

Donald (72) had four birdies on the front nine but struggled on the back where he had three bogeys in a row. The 34-year-old Englishman finished in a tie for 26th.

McIlroy, who is second in the money standings, must win the tournament and hope Donald finishes outside the top nine.

“It’s sort of taken the pressure off,” said McIlroy of a virus which has disrupted his preparations. ”I’m not 100% and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“I made three silly mistakes on the front nine but stayed patient and the back nine was pretty much flawless. I definitely don’t feel invincible, but I feel every time I tee it up I have a good chance of shooting a good score,” he told the European Tour website.

- additional reporting AP

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