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Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Sergio Garcia   (Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia (Getty Images)
Ryder Cup partners Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia are both looking to start 2014 with a bang in Abu Dhabi this week as they look to cement their places in Paul McGinley’s European Team to compete at Gleneagles later this year.

Donald and Garcia have won five out of six matches in tandem against the United States, with Europe winning all three contest in which both players have featured.

And while the Spaniard is currently on course to qualify for a seventh time, Donald is currently fractionally outside the top nine who will earn automatic exemption.

There is still plenty of time left before McGinley’s side is determined, but both players are keen to strengthen their position at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

“It is a course where I've done fairly well through the past,” said Garcia, who has never finished worse than 14th in five appearances.

“I'm excited to start the year here this new season, and then hopefully we can keep on the same track and do nicely and start the year the way you always wish to start it.

“We all know it’s a Ryder Cup year, so how important it is for all of us here. It would be nice to get going like we did last year and make sure you get your way into that Ryder Cup Team. 

“I think that last season was a very consistent, solid season for me. I had a lot of good finishes, ended up winning in Thailand but we probably had at least three or four really good chances of winning other than Thailand. It was nice to do, and I’m excited to keep going in the same direction. 

“Winning here and starting the year with a win would be great. It would be a dream come true obviously. 

“I guess as the week goes on and as I'm out there hitting the shots, I'll see how comfortable or how uncomfortable I feel in some of the situations.

“There's obviously going to be a little bit of rust, there's no doubt about that, but hopefully we can kind of scrape that off quickly and get going the way we played last season. 

“I'm excited to play well, I'm excited to make that Ryder Cup Team for Scotland, and it's in my plans, so hopefully we'll be there.”

Former World Number One Donald failed to fire on all cylinders during 2013, finishing 43rd on The Race to Dubai and not recording a top-three finish on The European Tour. 

But the 36 year old feels he has made improvements during the winter, and is looking forward to getting back to his best.

“I got in some great work with Chuck Cook last week, and feeling excited about the progress I'm making with him,” said Donald. “I’m looking forward to hopefully a lot better 2014 than last year. 

“It's nice to play in a tournament with such a strong field on a good golf course. This course demands very good golf from tee to green. It's got some tricky angles. I think that you have to drive the ball very well around here. 

“It's a good test. It's a tough test being your first tournament of the year, but I'm excited about being here again, and obviously this is one of The European Tour's best events of the year. 

“It's some decent changes for me. So it was nice to get in four solid days with Chuck. Obviously with my international travel at the end of last year and needing a couple weeks off in Christmas, I had not seen him really since he came out to Chicago in October. So it was great to get in some good work.  I'm looking forward to the next month or two, because he'll be coming to see me quite a few times in that period and we can really get stuck into what he wants me to do. 

“I certainly want to be there [at Gleneagles]. I've enjoyed four very memorable Ryder Cups and four victorious ones. I would love to be a part of that team. But again, it's not really putting pressure on myself. It's about continuing the process of getting better each week and trying to churn out consistent results. If I do that, I know I'll be on the team.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LARRAZÁBAL, PabloESP18-14
T2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-13
T2MICKELSON, PhilUSA18-13
T4COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-12
T4CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-12
6LUITEN, JoostNED18-10

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