Jamie Donaldson displayed the class and composure of a future Ryder Cup star as the Welshman stormed to the top of the leaderboard at the D+D REAL Czech Masters, edging one step closer to a place in Paul McGinley’s European team in the process.
The World Number 29 would seal his berth at the Gleneagles showcase with a win at the stunning Albatross Golf Resort outside Prague, and a six under par first round 66 handed him the perfect start as he moved one shot clear of Swede Mikael Lundberg.
Playing alongside fellow Ryder Cup hopeful Stephen Gallacher, who carded a two under 70, Donaldson started the inaugural event with a bang as he birdied the first en route to a three under par front nine.
A bogey at the par four 11th knocked him back to two under before his world-class talent came to the fore on the home stretch, carding four birdies in the last seven holes to move into pole position.
Lundberg, a winner on The European Tour already this year at the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity, signed for a 67 to hold second place outright ahead of ten players on four under par.
Key player quotes
Jamie Donaldson, 66 (-6)
“It’s a good start and I played nicely all the way really. I seemed to play the tougher holes better than the easy holes but I’m happy with how I played. It was always going to be a little bit of a low score if there wasn’t much wind and, while there was a little bit early on, it got easier as the wind dropped towards the end.
“It’s very important to get those approach shots in close and give yourself a lot of chances and I did that, the score reflected that.
“I generally like playing in wind or rain but today it was windy in places and those par threes play long out there so I was wearing my three iron out. But I’m in a good position and more of the same tomorrow.
“I know what I’ve got to do this week so it’s just a case of going out and doing it. It’s another golf tournament where you’ve got to go out there and play as well as you can and contend to win the tournament. I’m in a position to do that now, I just need more of the same over the next three rounds.
“You can’t go too heavily into it (Ryder Cup prospects), you have to go out there and it’s just one shot at a time like any other week. There are other things circling around this result but you have to get on with it and keep doing the same things you’ve been doing every week.”
Mikael Lundberg, 67 (-5)
“I played really steady and really solid. I only made one mistake today and made some putts so it doesn’t get much better than that.
“I’ve worked a lot on the swing and it feels a little better but I wasn’t sure before the round. I was very uncertain, especially about my putting which hasn’t been great the last couple of days, but it came back to where it should be.
“This year, I’ve worked with my new coach and we’ve made big progress, there’s way more stability and control in the game. We make everything more simple so I’m very happy with what’s going on now, it feels nice.
“The hardest thing to do is keep it simple but you try to take away all unnecessary movements and make everything more simple but it’s not that easy to do.”
Kenneth Ferrie, 68 (-4)
“It was good. The golf course is pretty long. I didn’t see a great deal of birdies in practise but obviously I seemed to find them all early today, six birdies to start the day is always nice!
“They were all reasonable chances and shots to the greens and taking it from there. Overall it wasn’t too bad, disappointed not to finish at least where I was or push on but it’s tough out there, definitely not an easy course.
“Obviously I had a couple of rough years and lost my card and haven’t managed to get it back yet so I’m playing whenever I can, as a past champion of events and late invites. It’s my own doing, I didn’t play well enough two years ago or at Q-School and I haven’t been able to get on a sustained run to get back out.
“It’s nice that when I’ve been out this year I’ve proven I still can play. I played alright in Austria for a couple of days and OK for a round in Barcelona, it’s nice to know I’m still capable out here.”
Danny Willett, 68 (-4)
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster. I had nine birdies in the end, my good golf was brilliant today but my bad golf – I hit three bad tee shots and a couple of bad second shots that got punished. It was a very strange day but I would have taken four under this morning.
“My game is in nice enough shape and I’ve had a steady enough year but that was just a strange day. Every time I had a good number I hit it really close. I had 24 putts but I stuck it in there really close a lot of the time.
“I holed a nice long one there at the last which was a bit of a consolation prize for the double-bogey on eight. I don’t want to analyse it too much, it was just one of those days, that’s golf.
“The course can definitely bite back, I played it back nine and then front nine today which is probably the nicer way to play it. You try and get a score early and keep it through the last few holes on the front nine and then the front nine there are a lot of chances.
“I think it’s one of those courses where you’ll see guys coming out of the blocks quickly and then they’ll soon put the brakes on and maybe whack it in reverse but hopefully I can get the mistakes off the card and keep going forward.”
66 J Donaldson (Wal) ,
67 M Lundberg (Swe) ,
68 L Slattery (Eng) , D Willett (Eng) , M Nixon (Eng) , K Horne (RSA) , J Hahn (USA) , S Chowrasia (Ind) , S Kjeldsen (Den) , K Ferrie (Eng) , P Waring (Eng) , B Dredge (Wal) ,
69 G Bourdy (Fra) , D Huizing (Ned) , A Sullivan (Eng) , J Colomo (Esp) , C Lee (Sco) , D Lipsky (USA) , S Walker (Eng) , P Archer (Eng) , T Sluiter (Ned) ,
70 P Lawrie (Sco) , J Morrison (Eng) , P Hedblom (Swe) , E Pepperell (Eng) , R Kakko (Fin) , R Karlberg (Swe) , A Otaegui (Esp) , S Webster (Eng) , P Whiteford (Sco) , G Porteous (Eng) , P Uihlein (USA) , S Wakefield (Eng) , M Bremner (RSA) , J Hansen (Den) , F Calmels (Fra) , J Luiten (Ned) , S Thornton (Irl) , T Hatton (Eng) , H Otto (RSA) , D Stewart (Sco) , J Knutzon (USA) , S Gallacher (Sco) , R McGee (Irl) ,
71 J Lagergren (Swe) , D Im (USA) , E De La Riva (Esp) , S Manley (Wal) , A Saddier (Fra) , M Grönberg (Swe) , R Bland (Eng) , S Jamieson (Sco) , D Kemmer (USA) , C Paisley (Eng) , S Kapur (Ind) , J Kruger (RSA) , E Dubois (Fra) , J Lima (Por) , B Stone (RSA) , G Stal (Fra) , O Stark (Swe) ,
72 G Lockerbie (Eng) , J Parry (Eng) , K Phelan (Irl) , F Praegant (Aut) , T Pieters (Bel) , T Lee (USA) , A Wall (Eng) , F Andersson Hed (Swe) , D Frittelli (RSA) , A Pavan (Ita) , G Boyd (Eng) , B Wiesberger (Aut) , P Sjöland (Swe) , E Grillo (Arg) , G Bhullar (Ind) , N Elvira (Esp) , M Baldwin (Eng) , G Maybin (Nir) , P Lawrie (Irl) , T Fleetwood (Eng) , J Singh (Ind) ,
73 M Jonzon (Swe) , J Heath (Eng) , D McGrane (Irl) , B Ritthammer (Ger) , A Forsyth (Sco) , R Davies (Wal) , J Campillo (Esp) , J Lara (Esp) , A Hartø (Den) , L Bjerregaard (Den) , J Doherty (Sco) , F Aguilar (Chi) , M Korhonen (Fin) , S Dodd (Wal) , N Holman (Aus) ,
74 B Evans (Eng) , T Lewis (Eng) , H Porteous (RSA) , Z Scotland (Eng) , S Dyson (Eng) , S Kim (Kor) , R Santos (Por) , C Hanson (Eng) , S Hansen (Den) , T Nørret (Den) , M Foster (Eng) , J Sjöholm (Swe) , A Hansen (Den) , S Little (Eng) , R Gonzalez (Arg) , J Dantorp (Swe) , J Elson (Eng) , C Del Moral (Esp) , C Doak (Sco) ,
75 A Kaleka (Fra) , G Storm (Eng) , E Goya (Arg) , B Paolini (USA) , J McLeary (Sco) , D Horsey (Eng) , A Pavlov (Rus) , W Ormsby (Aus) , O Bekker (RSA) , L Tintera (Cze) , R Finch (Eng) , D Drysdale (Sco) , R Rock (Eng) , J Walters (RSA) ,
76 A Gee (Eng) , V Riu (Fra) , N Colsaerts (Bel) , J Kingston (RSA) , X Ruiz Fonhof (Ned) , D Higgins (Irl) , S Matus (Cze) , D Brooks (Eng) , V Novak (am) (Cze) ,
77 O Fisher (Eng) , L Kennedy (Eng) , A Korinek (Cze) , K Eriksson (Swe) , N Dougherty (Eng) , P Price (Wal) ,
78 A Rajmont (Cze) , M Novy (Cze) ,
79 T Levet (Fra) , P Dedek (am) (Cze) ,
80 B Henson (USA) , R Hahn (Hun) , O Henningsson (Swe) ,
81 Y Kafelnikov (Rus) , P Gal (Cze) ,
82 D Suchan (Cze) ,
83 R Gruber (Aut) ,
Source: European Tour