Lake Buena Vista, FL – Luke Donald added the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to his schedule to try and win the money title.
The decision paid off so far.
Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, but No. 2 on the PGA Tour money list, posted a six-under 66 on Thursday and is one of seven players to share the opening-round lead in Disney World.
Webb Simpson, fresh off a playoff loss last week, is first on the money list, and shot a respectable, four-under 68 on Thursday.
The two were paired together for the first two rounds and engaged in some friendly trash talk Thursday.
"He asked when I was having my off-season. I said, 'Well, it was going to be this week. Thanks for playing the last two weeks,'" Donald joked. "But, yeah, just some lighthearted banter out there."
Simpson leads Donald by over $363,000 so the Englishman will need a very high finish to win the money race. Donald is comfortably ahead in the Race to Dubai, the European Tour money list, and no player has ever won both in the same year.
"Not only do I have to beat Webb, I have to beat the rest of the field. I have to keep my eye on everyone," Donald said.
He decided to play this championship just last week in order to go for the money title victory. Donald missed his 10-year reunion at Northwestern for the occasion.
"I was meant to be the honorary captain at the football game, but hopefully I won't be missed too much," said Donald.
The battle for first on the money list will be one storyline for the weekend, but there's a race at the other end of the money list that's worth paying attention to as well.
This is the final event on the 2011 PGA Tour schedule and after the completion of this tournament, the top 125 on the money list will keep their tour cards for next year.
One of Donald's co-leaders, James Driscoll, went into this week in the tricky position of being No. 125 on the money list.
"I don't look at 125 as that special of a number," he said. "The guys at 120 through 190 are kind of all in the same position. Everyone needs a good week this week. Every one of those guys needs a good week this week to avoid Q- School."
The first two rounds rotate between the Palm Course and Magnolia Course at Disney and Lamely was the only first-round co-leader who played at the Magnolia Course on Thursday.
The final two rounds are at the Magnolia Course, the slightly harder of the two.
Scott Gutschewski, Steven Bowditch, William McGirt, Kris Blanks, Paul Stankowski, Bio Kim and Ben Martin are knotted in eighth place at five-under 67.
MORE TO FOLLOW.