World number two Luke Donald continues his good form in the first round of the DP World Tour Championship and says it feels ‘easy’ to play at the moment.
World number two Luke Donald made a flying start in his bid to record back-to-back victories by snatching the first-round lead at the DP World Tour Championship on Thursday.
Donald fired a seven-under 65 to move one stroke ahead of top-ranked Rory McIlroy, Briton Marc Warren and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain at the European Tour's season-ending tournament.
Briton Donald, who won the Dunlop Phoenix title in Japan last week, was not at his best in the early stages and had to sink a putt of eight feet at the first and 15 feet at the fourth to avoid dropping two strokes.
He then reeled off seven birdies in a scintillating 10-hole sweep from the fifth to overpower his rivals at a Greg Norman-designed Earth course softened by a monsoon-like downpour at the start of the day.
“It was a very solid day today,” Donald said. “I had to make a couple good par putts at the beginning of the round but once I steadied myself I played really nicely. Sort of the fifth hole through 14, I was hitting the ball great, making a lot of great swings, finishing up on the greens and golf seemed pretty easy at that point.”
Donald, who is chasing his fourth victory of another sparkling season, added he was determined to add to his first round of 65 in order to win the title.
“I’m just focused on trying to put myself in position on Sunday,” Donald added. “This is obviously I think 57 of Europe’s best and it’s a great field. It would be a great victory to add to my resumé.”
Donald could be facing a head-to-head duel in the sun with McIlroy on Sunday for the first prize of $1.33 million.
McIlroy only hit one birdie on the front nine but then hit five birdies on the back nine in a bogey-free round to finish six under.
“I played well, I need to stay patient on the front nine,” McIlroy said. “I was driving the ball really well and putting myself in good positions to attack flags and wasn’t really taking advantage of it so it was nice to get it together on the back nine and make a few birdies and climb the leaderboard.”
McIlroy, who has already clinched the 2012 money-list titles on both sides of the Atlantic, is now focused on winning on Sunday so he can lift two trophies.
“I want to pick up two trophies instead of just one so, that’s my motivation. I want to stand there clutching two trophies like Lee [Westwood] did in ‘09.”
“I got off to a bit of a slow start. I felt I was hitting the ball well enough to give myself opportunities for birdies and didn't quite do it,” said the 23-year-old Northern Irishman.
“I just had to stay patient over the first few holes and then I got it together on the back nine. It was a great way to start the tournament.”