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Jamie Donaldson sparkles at Czech Masters

Updated: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 19:56 | Comments

Jamie Donaldson leads the field by one Danny Willett of England is two shots off the lead
Jamie Donaldson leads the field by one Danny Willett of England is two shots off the lead

Jamie Donaldson moved a step closer to making the European Ryder Cup team with a sparkling 66 in the first round of the D+D REAL Czech Masters.

The Welshman currently holds the eighth of nine automatic places for the team in Gleneagles due to his position on the world points list but a combined winning haul of just under €30,000 in the Czech Republic and in Italy next week would see him qualify via the European list.

And a six-under par round in Prague gave the 38-year-old a one-shot lead in a tournament which carries a €166,660 first prize.

Donaldson may not have to secure the necessary euros this week and next but qualification from the European list would be a relief with Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher also battling it out for the final place in the world standings.

McDowell, Donald and Poulter are all playing in the Barclays in New Jersey this week but Gallacher is also present in eastern Europe and fired a two-under par 70 playing alongside Donaldson.

Both men opened with a birdie but Donaldson dropped a shot on the third before further birdies at the fourth, eighth and ninth saw him reach the turn in 33.

Another shot was dropped on 11 but birdies at 12, 14, 17 and 18 saw Donaldson come home in the same score and secure a one-shot lead over Sweden's Mikael Lundberg.

Gallacher's round was more consistent as he enjoyed a run of nine pars from two to 10 before a dropped shot on 11 had him level for the day.

But two further birdies followed on 12 and 17 to move the Scot into red figures.

There was a 10-way tie for third place which included England's Paul Waring, Kenneth Ferrie, Danny Willett, Lee Slattery and Matthew Nixon, while Wales' Bradley Dredge was also in the group.

A cluster of nine men finished a further stroke back while Scotland's Gallacher finished alongside Holland's Joost Luiten, another rival for Donaldson's place in Paul McGinley's team on 70 for the opening day.

Ruaidhri McGee and Simon Thornton were best of the Irish contingent on two under par after 70s.

Kevin Phelan, Peter Lawrie and Gareth Maybin carded level-par rounds, while Damien McGrane and David Higgins shot 73 and 76 respectively. 

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