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Luke Donald set for Madrid Masters defence
October 5, 2011

Luke Donald’s blistering course record-equalling 63 at the Dunhill Links Championship on Saturday showed the sort of determination that has taken him to world number one.

The nine-under return over the Old Course at St Andrews subsequently ensured his arch-rival for Europe’s Race to Dubai, Rory McIlroy, could not steal too great a march on him. A ninth-place finish for Donald kept fast-finishing McIlroy still trailing top spot by nearly 1.3m euros.

Donald will now try to accelerate again by defending this week’s Madrid Masters title without McIlroy in the field. Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, the next men down in the money-list, are also giving Madrid a miss.

“The 63 came just at the right time, one of those rounds when everything worked great, and in the long run it could be important,” Donald told Reuters.

“You can’t worry too much what others are going to do, just go out there and try and perform yourself, but it helped towards another solid week.”

The Madrid Masters, with only a 1 million euro prize fund and a one-year tour exemption, is an unlikely event for a world number one but Donald is targeting the 166,660 euro first prize despite his recent exertions in the United States trying to win the Fedex Cup and the PGA Tour money-list.

“I feel as defending champion you should always make the best effort to defend,” he said. “Madrid last year was the start of a great run and I felt indebted to show my face.

“My chief rivals aren’t playing so I’m hoping to put a few more points on the board. I’m on my last legs but I’ll give it my all. As someone said ‘losers only quit when they are tired, winners quit when they win.’ I’m out to win.”

After Madrid, expectant father Donald, who is aiming to be the first to top the orders of merit either side of the Atlantic in the same season, plans a lengthy break.

While he could be pushed close in the Race to Dubai, his task in America, where he is $68,971 in front of his only rival Webb Simpson, looks easier. Simpson is not in this week’s Open field, leaving the American with just two events to leapfrog Donald.

“I need rest and my wife is expecting our second baby in less than six weeks now, but I’m keeping an eye on what Webb is doing,” said Donald. “I might have to add another (American) event; we’ll have to see.”

Donald’s chief rivals in the Madrid Masters, which starts on Thursday, should be the Italian trio of Francesco and Edoardo Molinari and Matteo Manassero. Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal is also in the field at a new venue, El Encin.

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