Luke bounces back in style
Donald at five under par in Dubai as Stenson on course
FORMER European number one Luke Donald made a welcome return to form as Henrik Stenson boosted his chances of following in Donald's footsteps in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship today.
Donald, who only scraped into an event limited to the top 60 players on the European Tour money list in 59th place, began the day seven shots off the lead held by Alejandro Canizares and immediately made matters worse with a bogey on the first.
But the world number 17 bounced back in brilliant fashion, carding birdies at his next six holes and eventually signing for a 66 to post a halfway total of five under par.
Rory McIlroy finished today on 67 and six under overall, while Shane Lowry finished on 71, leaving him on two under after two rounds.
Donald became the first man ever to win the money list titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season in 2011 and was world number one as recently as August 2012, but has slumped down the rankings and recently started working with US PGA Champion Jason Dufner's coach Chuck Cook in an attempt to regain his top form.
The 35-year-old admitted he cannot wait to see the back of 2013 and will be celebrating New Year's Eve a bit more keenly than usual.
"I'm looking forward to a fresh start," Donald said. "There's something about when that date changes (to January 1) and you can start over. Thirteen has not been a lucky number for me.
"The last two years I had a chance to win the Race to Dubai. This year the only thing to play for is winning this tournament.
"A win would dramatically change my confidence and it takes one week to turn around a year.
"I have gone through a couple of changes in my swing and expecting everything to click into place quickly.
"I have been pressing too much on the course and today went back to the old adage of one shot at a time.
"The swing is starting to bed in and my goal is to be ready by April next year (in time for the US Masters) and have a good season."
Stenson is looking to become the first man to win the FedEx Cup and European money list in the same season, and the Swede, who already has a 213,000-point lead over Justin Rose, was looking an increasingly sure bet to do just that as he picked up four shots in his first nine holes today.
Visibly frustrated at missing good chances on the first two holes, Stenson raised his arms in mock celebration when he did birdie the third and also birdied the fourth, seventh and ninth.
At eight under par he was one behind Spaniard Canizares, who was three under for his round, but crucially four ahead of Rose and Graeme McDowell – who had completed a 68 – and three ahead of Ian Poulter.
Rose and McDowell can still deny Stenson the title with a victory in Dubai on Sunday, while a win for Poulter would mean Stenson would have to finish second to claim the Harry Vardon trophy.