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McIlroy facing uphill task

Rory McIlroy lost a ball with only his fifth shot of the day and was left with a mountain to climb at the Dubai World Championship today.

With McIlroy needing to win just to have a chance of denying Luke Donald an unprecedented Order of Merit double, the world's top two went head to head in the opening round.

But it was advantage Donald, who requires a top-nine finish to secure the Race to Dubai crown, at the turn. Already the winner of the PGA Tour money list in America, he covered the front nine in a three-under-par 33 compared to McIlroy's 36.

Scotland's former Open champion Paul Lawrie had set a tough target earlier on with a sparkling seven-under-par 65 on his debut in the season-ending event.

He led by a stroke from Swede Peter Hanson and Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, who still had five and three holes to play, but most attention was on the duel between the last players to tee off.

"I gave myself an awful lot of chances - my iron play was fabulous," said Lawrie, who spent all day Monday working on his game after finishing the Hong Kong Open at the weekend with a five-over-par 75.

"The flight got in at 4.30am, I went to the hotel for a shower, was on the range by seven and didn't get to the hotel until four or five in the afternoon.

"Sometimes you need a day like that. My boys are 16 and 12 now and I don't want them to see Dad being a poor player. I want to be in the top 50 in the world."

He is currently 93rd.

The 58-strong field - Justin Rose and Fredrik Jacobson are not playing - was further reduced to 57 when Korean YE Yang pulled out after four holes with a neck injury, but Dane Thomas Bjorn was battling on with the same problem.

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