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Donaldson overhauls Rose in Abu Dhabi

HOW life has changed for Jamie Donaldson, the golfer who was advised to stop playing the sport after suffering serious back trouble.

For the second time in just over six months, the 37-year-old Welshman has beaten a field which included Rory McIlroy - and the latest one had Tiger Woods there, too.

While the world's top two missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Donaldson added the title to his Irish Open win last July and then spoke about his "years in the wilderness".

In 2000 he played alongside Luke Donald and Paul Casey at the world amateur team championship in Germany, but while they became instant hits in the paid ranks, he faced a bleak future after being diagnosed with a spinal condition.

"The low point, probably in '04, was when I would be scared of stepping off a curb just in case my back was going to go," he said.

When one doctor advised him to call a halt to his career, though, Donaldson was having none of it.

"I couldn't hear that - that wasn't what I wanted to hear," he said after collecting the €330,000 first prize.

"To be honest, as soon as somebody says that, you just go and see somebody else."

That person was London-based spinal rehabilitation specialist Jon Bowskill, and he gave Donaldson a programme of core stability exercises that enabled him to resume playing.

"It's a bit like riding a bike really. Once you've done them for so long you're training balance muscles that you never had before."

Donaldson's triumph at Royal Portrush last summer helped him reach the world's top 50 to secure a debut in the US Masters in April.

Donaldson, two behind with one round to play, shot a closing 68 to beat long-time leader Justin Rose and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen by one shot.

Padraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie finished in joint 23rd place, both on five-under.