Race to Dubai: Hanson the Leader After Round 1, McIlroy in the Driver's Seat

Carlos TorresContributor IDecember 8, 2011

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 08:  Peter Hanson of Sweden plays his third shot at the par 5, 18th hole during the first round of the Dubai World Championship on the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates on December 8, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Peter Hanson from Sweden, tied the Jumeirah Golf Estates course record with an eight-under 64, and is the leader after round one at the Dubai World Championships.

Hanson, fresh off his third-place finish at the UBS Hong Kong Open, played a flawless, bogey-free round, which included a six-under on the back-nine. He holds a one-shot lead over 1999 Open Champ Paul Lawrie, who also had a bogey-free round, and was the early leader.

But the main storyline is the race for the Money Title between the top two players in the world, Luke Donald, and U.S. Open Champ Rory McIlroy. Donald is trying to become the first golfer to ever win the Money Titles on both the PGA and European tours in the same year.

And after the opening round, McIlroy has the early advantage as he shot six-under par and is in solo third, while Donald shot even-par, and is T26.

Playing on the featured group, McIlroy and Donald started the round going in opposite directions. On the par-four first hole McIlroy made birdie, while Donald made a bogey. Advantage McIrloy right out of the gate.

But then McIlroy had a double-bogey on the par-five second hole. He bounced back and made birdie on the next hole. McIlroy's only other blemish on the front-nine (and the remaining of the round) was a bogey he made on the eight hole.

Donald made back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes, adding two more on the front-nine to make the turn at three-under. With McIlroy at even-par, it looked like Donald would pull away and step closer to history.

But then, on the back-nine McIlroy went to work. He played it at six-under, including birdies on the last three holes. Meanwhile, Donald had three straight bogeys, starting at the 14th hole, dropped him to even-par for the day.

Not everything is lost for Donald, as they have played only one round. But McIlroy definitely has all the momentum going into Friday, and is in a good position to get the title.

Another notable, Sergio Garcia was at six-under after four straight birdies going to the par-three 17th. He then made a double-bogey to drop two shots. But recovered one with a birdie on 18th to close his round at five-under, and in solo fourth-place.

Tied for fifth at four-under are Alvaro Quiros, Robert Rock and Ross Fisher. Quiros was sitting at six-under entering the 16th hole, but then he made two bogeys on the last three holes.

Fisher, who had played the shot of the day with an eagle on his approach shot at the par-four 15th, made bogey on the 17th to drop his round score to four-under.

A group of six players that includes Masters Champ and fourth ranked in the Race to Dubai, Charl Schwartzel are T8 at three-under.

The other two players on the top five in the race Martin Kaymer (third) and Lee Westwood (fifth) shot one-over par and are T36.

Also worth noting, Y.E. Yang withdrew after four holes of play. Now the field is down to 57 players.

- Carlos Torres

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