Czech Masters: Jamie Donaldson boosts Ryder Cup hopes

Jamie Donaldson
Donaldson is currently ranked eighth of the nine automatic qualifiers for Europe's Ryder Cup team

Czech Masters: First-round leaderboard
-6 Jamie Donaldson (Wal), -5 Mikael Lundberg (Swe), -4 Paul Waring, Kenneth Ferrie, Danny Willett, Lee Slattery & Matthew Nixon (all Eng), Bradley Dredge (Wal), John Hahn (US), Keith Horne (SA), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), SSP Chowrasia (Ind)

Jamie Donaldson underlined his Ryder Cup credentials as he surged to the top of the leaderboard on the first day of the Czech Masters.

The Welshman can seal his berth in Europe's team for Gleneagles with victory in Prague and served notice of his intentions with a six-under-par 66.

"I know what I've got to do this week, so it's just a case of going out and doing it," said Donaldson.

The 38-year-old is eighth on the European Ryder Cup list with the top nine after next week's Italian Open qualifying automatically.

Sweden's Mikael Lundberg is in second place, one shot off the pace.

Playing alongside fellow Ryder Cup hopeful Stephen Gallacher, who managed a two-under 70, Donaldson birdied the first hole before reaching the turn in 33.

A bogey at the par-four 11th knocked the world number 29 back to two under but four birdies in the last seven holes moved him to the summit.

"It's a good start and I played nicely all the way really," Donaldson added.

"I seemed to play the tougher holes better than the easy holes but I'm happy with how I played.

"I just need more of the same over the next three rounds."

Gallacher is one of four Scots on two under par, though Stirling's Craig Lee is one shot better off at three under. Paul Lawrie, Duncan Stewart and Peter Whiteford all carded first-round 70s.

Europe face the United States at Gleneagles from 26-28 September and will be looking to make it three straight victories over the Americans, after a record comeback at Medinah in 2012 and the 2010 win at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport.

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