Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Donaldson leads the way in Shanghai

Rory McIlroy, pictured, is five strokes adrift of leader Jamie Donaldson

The best season of Jamie Donaldson's career could be about to get even better this weekend.

Playing against four of the world's top five and all but one of Europe's winning Ryder Cup side, the 37-year-old Welshman began the BMW Masters in Shanghai with a course-record 62 to open up a four-stroke lead.

Medinah pair Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari are in second place, with world number one Rory McIlroy, fellow Northern Irishman Michael Hoey and European captain Jose Maria Olazabal - 492nd in the world - tied for fourth five shots back.

After 254 European Tour events without a win, Donaldson finally broke his duck at the Irish Open in July.

He is currently 51st on the world rankings and at the end of the year the top 50 earn invitations to The Masters in April. For a player who has only ever played four majors and never been to Augusta, that is a huge incentive.

The former amateur international - he partnered Luke Donald and Paul Casey to second place in the World Team Championship in 2000 - is also on course for his highest-ever finish on the Tour money list and up for grabs this weekend is a first prize of over £720,000.

"There's a lot still to play for at this time of year," Donaldson said after grabbing 10 birdies on the Lake Malaren lay-out.

"But there's an awesome field here, so I need to keep playing like that. It was one of those rounds where you hit everything where you want to hit it and I putted really well.

"The course suits me - the fairways are quite generous and if you miss the bunkers you can play aggressive golf."