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Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald set for Sunday showdown in Dubai

Duel in Dubai! McIlroy and Donald set for Sunday showdown on European Tour season finale

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UPDATED:

15:39 GMT, 24 November 2012

It is hard to think of a more fitting climax to this fabulous golfing year than the two best players in the world going head-to-head in the final group of the final event, the DP World Tour Championship.

For No 1 Rory McIlroy, it is the chance to put yet more gloss on a season that has seen him win the money list titles on both sides of the Atlantic and claim his second major, the USPGA Championship, in record-breaking fashion.

For Luke Donald, it is an opportunity to close the gap at the top and claim an impressive fourth title for the second consecutive season.

Driving seat: But Rory McIlroy is not alone at the top of the leaderboard

Driving seat: But Rory McIlroy is not alone at the top of the leaderboard

DP World Tour Championship

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The odds favour McIlroy. Not only is
he the better player but, with its extravagant length and considerable
carries, this course offers a considerable advantage to anyone who can
hit it miles off the tee – and McIlroy can outdrive Donald by up to 75
yards.

But don’t rule out the stylish Englishman, who completed one incredible feat on Saturday and is closing in on another.

Donald, if you can believe this, has
now played 100 holes on this Earth Course measuring over 7,500 yards
without a single bogey.

The fabulous ton is made up of 68 pars and 32 birdies.

He finished last year’s tournament
with three 66s and has followed it here with rounds of 65, 69 and 66 to
tie McIlroy on 17 under par.

f Donald goes bogey-free on Sunday,
he will also become the first man to complete a European Tour event
without a blemish since the Swede Jesper Parnevik won the Scandinavian
Masters in 1995.

Just to emphasise its rarity, no man in America has played 72 holes without a bogey since Lee Trevino won in Tampa in 1974.

The future's bright: Luke Donald has been in superb form at the DP World Tour Championship

The future's bright: Luke Donald has been in superb form at the DP World Tour Championship

‘I guess that’s my game, to keep the ball in play and then, when I make mistakes, I save myself with a pretty good short game,’ said Donald.

‘It is still a statistic of which I am very proud. I think my previous longest run would probably be about 40 or 50 holes, so that puts it in perspective.’

On Saturday, as ever, the two men shot 66 in vastly different ways. Donald, dressed in a luminous orange shirt – ‘if you’re going to dress like an Easyjet pilot you better play well,’ he joked – made most of his gains on the front nine and closed with a trademark pitch and 4ft putt at the 18th.

There was a moment of good humour as he called in his caddie John McLean, who was standing about 20 yards away, and asked for help in reading the short putt.

As the excited Mclean pulled alongside him, Donald broke into a broad smile and said: ’No, you’re ok, I’ve got this.’

McIlroy had a slow start for the second day running, perhaps because he was still feeling a little under the weather.

‘I think the adrenaline got me through,’ he said.

Glamour game: Caroline Wozniacki was there to support McIlroy in Dubai

Glamour game: Caroline Wozniacki was there to support McIlroy in Dubai

There was certainly some adrenaline on show at the 12th. Here he hit such a long drive he had just a sand wedge for his approach. Donald, by contrast, was hitting a six iron.

But, as McIlroy acknowledged: ’It is one thing having such an advantage but you have to make use of it otherwise it can work the other way, and you start getting frustrated.’

As for Sunday’s duel, neither man tried to hide their excitement nor lessen its importance.

Said McIlroy: ‘I know I am going into next year as world No 1 and that’s great, but I badly want to win here and to do it playing with the world No 2 would certainly put an exclamation point on the season.’

onald believes he has the chance to gain psychological brownie points.

‘Anytime you go head-to-head against the best player in the world and win, you’re going to feel good about your game,’ said the 34 year old.

‘Up to last week it had been a solid season but if I follow up my win in Japan with a win here against Rory I’d have to rank it as a very good year.’

All to play for on Sunday, then. Oh, and good luck to South African’s gifted major winners, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.

They start three behind and are desperate to prove this is not how it appears – a two-man show.

Ryder Cup 2012: Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald pair up in practice at Medinah

We mean business! Unbeaten Ryder Cup duo Donald and Garcia pair up in practice

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UPDATED:

14:48 GMT, 26 September 2012

The unbeaten Ryder Cup partnership of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia was back together for the second day of practice in Chicago on Wednesday.

And, with Europe playing foursomes rather than fourballs, it looks as if the pair might try to make it five wins out of five when the match against the Americans starts on Friday.

Donald and Garcia won twice together on the Englishman's debut in Detroit in 2004 and added two more victories two years later in Ireland.

All smiles: Garcia looked relaxed during the second practice round at Medinah

All smiles: Garcia looked relaxed during the second practice round at Medinah

Donald has a perfect record of six
wins out of six in the format, having also partnered Ian Poulter and Lee
Westwood when Garcia was only an assistant captain in Wales two years
ago.

The Spaniard, meanwhile, is unbeaten
in nine foursomes since his first cap as a 19-year-old – he remains the
youngest-ever player in the match – in Boston in 1999. Eight of the nine
were victories.

On the opening day of practice this
week Donald was with Westwood again, but that was a fourball game
against Poulter and Justin Rose – and they scored a better-ball 59, 13
under par.

This time Donald and Garcia played
alongside Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, a partnership from the 2010
match that looks cast in stone again.

Pen to paper: Martin Kaymer signs memorabilia for the waiting fans

Pen to paper: Martin Kaymer signs memorabilia for the waiting fans

Pen to paper: Martin Kaymer signs memorabilia for the waiting fans while Peter Hanson (below) listens to instructor Rikard Lindberg

Westwood, meanwhile, switched to
playing alongside Scot Paul Lawrie, Italian Francesco Molinari and
Belgian debutant Nicolas Colsaerts.

The first game out was Poulter and Rose again with Swede Peter Hanson and German Martin Kaymer.

On his superb foursomes record Garcia, who has also won with Jesper Parnevik and Westwood, joked today: 'I think it's quite simple – I just had great partners. They just carried me home.

'I don't know. I've managed to gel nicely with the partners I've had – we've played well together, we've been comfortable together.

'There's no big secret about it. It's being able to play well at the right moments – foursomes is the toughest format we play, so being comfortable with who you're playing I think is key.'

Final countdown: The players took another good look at the course before the action begins in earnest on Friday

Final countdown: The players took another good look at the course before the action begins in earnest on Friday

Final countdown: The players took another good look at the course before the action begins in earnest