The Ayrshireman is flying the Saltire in the Sunshine Tour event along with Jack Doherty and South African-based duo Doug McGuigan and Alan McLean.
It’s a good opportunity for McDonald, who turned professional just under two years ago and played in a combination of Challenge Tour and Alps Tour events last season.
To prepare for the new campaign, the former Walker Cup player teed up in two events in Turkey recently on the inaugural Gloria Futures Tour, finishing third and tied second.
“It was a fantastic couple of weeks and good to get in some warm weather training to set me up for the season,” said McDonald of the 54-holers on the Old and New Courses at Gloria Golf Club in Belek.
Lawrie, who is playing in the Oman Open instead this week as he tries to win back his European Tour card, posted a 15-under-par 274 total last year in an event that is played over three courses – Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links.
McLean was the winner in 2006 while champions since then have included home duo Branden Grace and George Coetzee. Title favourite on this occasion is another South African, Dean Burmester, while the field also includes Frenchman Romain Langasque, who won the 2015 Amateur Championship at Carnoustie.
Elsewhere, McDonald’s 2015 Walker Cup team-mate, Ewen Ferguson, fired a second-round 68 to sit just outside the top 20 heading into the final round of the Ein Bay Open, an Alps Tour event in Egypt. On one-under, he trails the leader, Irishman David Carey, by nine shots.
In the non-paid ranks, Barassie’s Euan Walker has eight shots to make up on the leaders at the halfway stage of the African Amateur Championship at Glendower.