Although the European Tour title has already been wrapped up by golf sensation Rory McIlroy, there's plenty of reason to tune into this weekend's 2012 DP World Tour Championship and Thursday showed us exactly why.
Some of the world's best players took to Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai to showcase their talents and fight to win the European Tour's final event. After one day of play in the United Arab Emirates, a notable golfer stands atop the perch as Luke Donald leads at seven-under par.
Though McIlroy has the Tour championship locked up, he's not fading into the background and sits just one stroke behind the leader at six-under.
McIlroy and Donald aren't the only marquee names fighting for the year's final tour event. Lee Westwood is lurking inside the top 10, while Charl Schwartzel, Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen are not far behind.
Let's take a look at the leaders in Dubai after Day 1.
Scoreboard After Round 1
|T5||Fredrik Andersson Hed||SWED||67||-5|
* For the complete leaderboard, check out the European Tour Tournament Tracker.
This weekend's event is supposed to be the tell-all indicator of the 2012 European Tour, and we may get that despite McIlroy already having the title wrapped up.
Donald looks for a second-place finish for this year's Tour campaign, and he began this weekend's tournament in his usually dominant form as he stretched his neck out for a one-stroke lead at seven-under par.
While McIlroy could've taken the weekend off and still won the Tour, he's showing why many regard him as the world's top golfer as he is just one stroke off the lead.
It looks like the Tour's Scottish golfers may be crashing the party in Dubai this weekend. Three Scots are firmly in the top 10 after Day 1 of play as Marc Warren sits tied for second, while Richie Ramsey and Scott Jamieson are two and three strokes shy of the leader, respectively.
The title may already have McIlroy's name imprinted on it, but there's no shortage of motivation for these top golfers and Thursday's play proved that. We're in for an exciting weekend of golf in Dubai as some of the world's top golfers try to put an exclamation point on their seasons.
As we've come to expect after Day 1 of golf, the top of the leaderboard is incredibly jam-packed and no golfer has proved to be a clear favorite after 18 holes.
Don't expect things to get much more separated in the coming days as the top of the leaderboard is riddled with big names, but one thing you can expect is that Luke Donald will win this weekend's tournament.
It's hard to find a golfer—not named Rory McIlroy—who has had a more impressive 2012 season than Donald. He's been on McIlroy's heels in the European Tour chase seemingly for months and while he looks to have come up just short, he still has a chance to end this season on a good note and climb farther up the rankings.
Despite Tiger Woods' resurgence in the calendar year, Donald stuck with it and recently climbed past Woods to gain the No. 2 world ranking. We've seen the implications the ranking plays toward building onto the coming year, and Donald will certainly want to conclude his Tour season with a win to further distance himself from the American.
Additionally, beating McIlroy in another event would pull Donald closer to regaining the No. 1 ranking that he has become synonymous with in recent memory.
There's far too many elite golfers to write off at this point, but if there's one person in the field worth placing your bet on, it's Luke Donald.
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