McIlroy gets a headache as Donaldson hits 62 at BMW Masters
World No 1 stays in sight of record-breaking Welshman despite air-pollution woes
World number one Rory McIlroy battled a headache from "polluted air", while Welshman Jamie Donaldson made other heads spin on the opening day of the inaugural US$7 million BMW Masters in Shanghai.
Donaldson opened with all guns blazing, shooting a flawless 10-under 62 - his mind even flirting with the magical 59 - while McIlroy stayed in sight with a five-under 67, despite developing a headache from pollution-spewing factories surrounding the Lake Malaren Golf Club.
"My energy level was fine," McIlroy said. "I started to get a bit of a headache on the back nine. I don't know why, obviously [from] factories and stuff around here, probably not breathing in the cleanest air.
"I've got a little bit of a headache right now, but with a good night's sleep, I should be OK tomorrow."
McIlroy, 23, finished the first day of the European Tour event in a tie for fourth, but was happy to be within touching distance of Donaldson.
"With the benign conditions, the course was there for the taking. Jamie shot a phenomenal score, and I was just trying to keep somewhere within touching distance," he said. "I am happy with how I played and I'm in a good position going into the second round."
McIlroy, who will play Tiger Woods in an 18-hole shootout in Zhengzhou on Monday, will then fly to Europe to watch girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki play her last tennis tournament of the year.
It had taken Donaldson 10 years and 255 tour events before he broke through for his maiden win in the Irish Open in June, which has helped open a few more doors.
"I played great from the word go," Donaldson said about his round. "It was one of those days where everything went for me. I even thought about 59. It's crazy. I'm playing the best you can at 10 under and you are still three off. As soon as you start thinking about it and try to push, it's near impossible. You just have to let it happen."
Despite facing "a brutally hard" elite 78-man field, including four of the top five players in the world, Donaldson overshadowed the 11 Ryder Cup players, including Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari (six under), along with McIlroy, who was joined by Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal and Michael Hoey (Northern Ireland).
Donaldson, 37, has shot two 61s - one at the Volvo China Open in Chengdu last year and the other in Morocco this year - but rated yesterday's 62 as good, if not better, because of the difficulty of the course.
"I was zoned in," he said. "It's up there with the best rounds I've ever shot. I just kept hitting the ball where I wanted to and the putts started right where I wanted them to start. The golf course is certainly no pushover by any stretch of the imagination."
Donaldson faces the difficult task today of following such a commanding performance, but said he could draw upon his victory at the Irish Open.
"I know I can do it when it matters. It was a big win and a long time coming. You start performing like that in big tournaments, it rolls on from there and you have to reset your targets. I have to keep trying to do the same things that enabled me to win that week," he said.
"The Irish Open win has opened quite a few doors. I just want to keep improving and get better and move up the world rankings. However well I do, I'm always looking to move to the next goal."