European Captain Luke Donald closed his opening round with four successive birdies to take the early lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, though he fell short of putting his name forward for a playing role at this September’s Ryder Cup.
The Englishman made the turn at four under par and dropped just one shot during his inward nine as that quartet of closing birdies saw him post an opening eight under par round of 64 at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.
The 45-year-old leads by one from Italy’s Guido Migliozzi, who won the Hero Cup as part of Team Continental Europe last week, and Australian Jason Scrivener, as the pair both opened with seven under rounds of 65 on Yas Island.
It was Donald’s lowest DP World Tour score in some 28 months but the former World Number One wasn’t about to get carried away with his Yas Links opener after being asked if he could make his own Ryder Cup team.
“1975 I think the last time that happened. No, we are a long way from that,” Donald smiled.
“I actually came into this year with higher expectations than I had in a while just for my own game. You know when you’re swinging reasonably well.
“I feel like I’ve done some good work on my long game with Jamie Gough, and I’ve done some good work with my short game with Pat Goss. And to be honest, I feel like my game is in a pretty good spot.
“It’s not totally surprising that I shot 64 today. I went out there, again, last couple days, I’ve been hitting it nicely, swinging well, and it was nice to carry that on today.”
The morning groups enjoyed the better of the scoring with conditions more favourable, and it is West Waterford’s Séamus Power, making his debut in this event, who lies fourth on six-under par, with seven players a shot further back.
Two of those sitting on five under are Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, both of whom shared the best round of the afternoon to sit three off the lead after 18 holes alongside Shane Lowry.
Padraig Harrington was at four-under par after a super 68 while Tom McKibbin returned an even par start, leaving the Holywood star with work to do to make the halfway cut.
Darkness descended on Yas Links with round one incomplete, therefore those still with holes to play will return on Friday to finish their rounds. There is no change to round two tee times.
- Full scoring HERE
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