In search of his first European Tour title in nearly four years, Jamie Donaldson fired an opening-round 62 to lead the Dubai Desert Classic by two strokes.
The 42-year-old has suffered through a malady of injuries over the past several years.
“I had tennis elbow for a year and a half, that wasn’t very nice, but you’ve just got to try and play through these things.,” Donaldson said. “I took three months off at the end of 2016 trying to get myself right and it didn’t work. Now it’s gone, I feel fully fit. I’ve been working on my game, trying to find the form that I’ve found in the past. Everything worked perfectly today.”
Earlier this decade, Donaldson was one of the more well-known names on the European Tour as he won three tournaments in 25 months, including the 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. He also finished tied for seventh at the 2012 PGA Championship about a month after grabbing his first career win at The Irish Open.
Starting on the back nine Thursday, Donaldson race through the course with birdies on 10, 12, 17 and 18 and an eagle on the par-5 13th.
He nearly aced No. 7, which would have seen him sharing the course record set by Ernie Els in 1994. He was also pushing for a 59.
I’m not going to lie to you, I was thinking about it,” he said. “I birdied five and then started thinking, ‘if i just birdie them all coming in, then I’ve done it. Sometimes you’re best not thinking and just keep playing but I was picturing birdying them all and then jumping in the lake on the last. I’m stood here at 10-under which I’m very happy with.”
Tyrrell Hatton is second at 8-under, with Rory McIlroy among a group five men tied for third at 7-under. McIlory had a bogey-free round.