Luke Donald Rolls Back The Years At Nedbank Golf Challenge

Luke Donald vaulted into second place on the Nedbank challenge leader board after an opening round 65 in Sun City

Like his American counterpart, Europe's Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has finished outside the top 125 and misses the FedEx Playoffs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Luke Donald fired an opening round of 65 in the Nedbank Challenge which ensures he ends the day second on the leaderboard at 7-under.

The European Ryder Cup captain rolled back the years with a flawless round that contained zero bogeys and seven birdies which vaulted him just behind Ryan Fox, who opened up with a sparkling 64.

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The tournament returned to the DP World Tour schedule for its 40th anniversary after a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is the penultimate event of the current season, with players aiming to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship.

The Englishman is playing at the event for the first time since 2014 – where he finished in third place – and expressed his joy at featuring on such a landmark occasion.

He said: "I’m delighted to be able to play the Nedbank Golf Challenge in this landmark year for the event. It’s such a unique tournament and I have fond memories of my past visits to Sun City.

"It certainly doesn’t seem like eight years since I last teed it up there, and I’m very much looking forward to returning, both as a player and in my capacity as Ryder Cup captain, as the season draws to a close."

Of course, with a field containing the likes of defending champion Tommy Fleetwood and Ryder Cup hopefuls Robert MacIntyre, Nicolai Højgaard and Adrian Meronk, playing in the tournament appeared to be a reconnaissance mission for the captain.

Donald started off steady enough, parring the first four holes, before birdies at five and nine took him to the turn at 2-under. A stunning back nine which included five birdies certainly rolled back the years and will give the 44-year-old some food for thought heading into round two.

A top-10 finish has alluded him so far this year on both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, however the fire still burns and his scouting mission ahead of Rome 2023 might subconsciously be placed on the back-burner.

Ross Kilvington
Contributor

Ross Kilvington is a freelance writer from Scotland who has had his work published by acclaimed publications such as Nutmeg alongside popular online blogs including the Gentleman Ultra, North Section and Engrossed in Football. Ross holds a passionate interest in golf and tries to play as often as possible, although having two daughters under the age of four means his quest to break 80 will have to wait a little bit longer. He writes about golf in his spare time, most recently having an article published in the Golf Memories anthology Mind the Links, which was released in July with all proceeds going towards Alzheimer charities. With a handicap that floats between 13-14, highlights are few and far between on the golf course, with an eagle on the par 4 16th at Kinghorn one that stands out (it doesn’t matter that it was only 290 yards!).