Dubai Desert Classic: Jamie Donaldson cards a 62 to lead in Dubai

Donaldson's last European Tour win was at the 2014 Czech Masters.
Donaldson's last European Tour win was at the 2014 Czech Masters.
Dubai Desert Classic - first-round leaderboard
-10 J Donaldson (Wal); -9 D Horsey (Eng), A Wall (Eng); -8 T Hatton (Eng); -7 A Bjork (Swe), L Jensen (Den), R McIlroy (NI), C Paisley (Eng), T Pieters (Bel)
Selected others: -6 P Dunne (Irl), MA Jimenez (Spa); -5 S Garcia (Spa), C Hanson (Eng); -4 P Lawrie (Sco), I Poulter (Eng)
Full leaderboard

Jamie Donaldson holds a one shot lead over the field after an opening-round 62 at the Dubai Desert Classic.

A bogey on the ninth, his final hole, was the only blemish in a round that featured nine birdies and an eagle.

The Welshman is 10-under par, one ahead of England's David Horsey and Anthony Wall with Tyrrell Hatton on eight-under in fourth.

Earlier, Rory McIlroy's encouraging start to the year continued as he shot an opening-round 65.

A run of five birdies in six holes after making the turn meant that Donaldson was targeting a possible round of 59 with two holes left to play.

However, a delicate chip shot on the eighth rolled narrowly past the hole and he then had to settle for a bogey on the ninth after his tee shot landed in a bunker.

"I was thinking about it [carding a 59]," said Donaldson.

"I got a birdie on the fifth and I started thinking 'if I just birdie the rest of them coming in I can do it'.

"Sometimes you are best not thinking and just playing but I was thinking of jumping in the lake if I had done it."

Wall carded a bogey-free round of 63 to hold a share of second place with Horsey, who finished his round with back to back birdies.

McIlroy, who was among the early starters, is in a group of players on seven-under par after another impressive round by the Northern Irishman.

The four-time major winner returned last week from a three-month absence owing to a rib injury to finish joint third at the Abu Dhabi Championship.

"I am ahead of schedule right now. That's nice," said McIlroy.

The European Ryder Cup player has won twice and claimed five other top-10 finishes in his last seven starts on the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club.

Hatton, whose round featured an eagle on the par-five third, is in fourth place on eight-under par, one shot ahead of a group that includes McIlroy, the talented Belgian Thomas Pieters, Alexander Bjork of Sweden, in-form Englishman Chris Paisley and Denmark's Lasse Jensen.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain is one of a group of players two shots further back on five under.

Paisley's good run continues, having finished joint fifth in Abu Dhabi and won his first European Tour title the week before in South Africa with his wife acting as his caddie.

"Not being able to play to my best last year was something I was very frustrated with," said McIlroy.

"But from then until now, it is completely different.

"I am really happy with where my body is, where my game is and this is just a progression of what I have seen over the past couple of months, which has been nice.

"I didn't expect to play as well as I did last week, and it has been nice to continue that into this week."

In December, McIlroy announced he would play in at least seven tournaments in early 2018 in preparation for the Masters, the one major title to have eluded him.

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