GW Player Profile: Luke Donald

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Luke Donald dropped to 92 in the world.

Luke Donald hasn’t enjoyed the best of form over the past two years.

The former World No 1 dropped down to 92nd in the world rankings and even contemplated retirement.

He missed the Masters this year for the first time in 12 years, but since then he has been fighting back. He finished runner-up at the RBS Heritage tournament in April.

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Law bidding for first MENA Tour victory in Sotogrande

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The young Scotsman backed up his opening 74 with a tidy five-under 67 to reach three-under for the tournament, a good two-shot ahead of overnight joint leader Mathieu Decottignies-Lafon of France with Duncan Stewart of Scotland and Gavin Moynihan sharing the third on level-par.

Javier Gallegos, the winner of the MENA Golf Tour Qualifying School held earlier this year, led the home challenge on one-over-par after a second round 74, two clear of his fellow Spaniard Manuel Quiros, who returned a 71 after opening with a 76.

Moroccan amateur Yassine Touhami spearheaded the MENA Division, reaching seven-over after second round 75, one better than of his fellow countryman Younes El Hassani and four clear of Faycal Serghini.

It was Law, the 24-year-old Aberdonian, who held centre-stage with solid golf, reeling off three birdies on the front nine without dropping a shot and making further gains on the 12th, 15th and 17th in his second round which included just one bogey on the par-4, 13th.

“I controlled the ball well and putted nicely. Overall, played very good golf. There was no wind on the front nine and that helped as I made the turn at three-under without dropping a shot,” said Law, a two-time runner-up in 2013.

“The golf course here is pretty tricky. Once you land on the wrong side of the fairways or greens, it becomes difficult to save par. I am quite pleased with my efforts.”

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Balmaseda hoping to exploit home advantage at Sotogrande Masters

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Local hero: Carlos Balmaseda.

The inaugural Qualifying School event this year was held in Spain, but this week will be the first time a full-field MENA Tour event is taking place in the European nation.

Ahead of the event, Balmaseda said: “With an array of courses and short-sleeves climate, Spain is a big factory of golf, but we need more competitive events that provide a springboard for our emerging players to grow and excel globally.

“The Sotogrande Masters is a welcome addition to Spain’s portfolio of international events, one which also reflects the popularity of the tour in this part of the world.

“The number of Spaniards playing on the tour has risen rapidly over the years with the victory of Gabriel Canizares last season serving as a catalyst in fuelling interest in the MENA Tour.”

A strong field of 116 players, including 17 from Spain, will join the startling line-up Sunday.

Canizares, who is a son of European Tour veteran Jose-Maria, also felt tackling windy conditions will be the key. “I expect a winning score of 8 to 10-under, but if the wind blows, which is likely the case, then your guess is as good as mine.

“Whatever the outcome might be, the players will enjoy this great course.

“We don’t have that many tournaments these days and the guys are taking the MENA Golf Tour route to hone their competitive edge and get better and make a living. Playing on the MENA Tour, in my opinion, is also quite affordable, which is great.”

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