Donald delight at fast start

If Luke Donald came away from Thursday’s 1st round of the Tour Championship with a smile on his face, it was with good reason.

If Luke Donald came away from Thursday’s first round of the Tour Championship with a smile on his face, it was with good reason.

He had reversed his miserable start at last week’s BMW Championship, shrugged away a late downpour and lightning delay and had come out fast with all guns blazing to get among the front runners from the word go.

The World No 1 shot a 4-under par 66 that put him in a second place tie with Chez Reavie and Jason Duffner, just two shots behind first round leader Keegan Bradley and greatly upped his chances of winning both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup’s multi-million bonanza.

“Certainly I wanted to get off to a quicker start really, than I had in Chicago,” said a delighted Donald after firing five birdies and a bogey on Atlanta’s storied East Lake Golf Course where legendary Bobby Jones cut his golfing teeth.

Last week, Donald opened with a 75 in the BMW Championship at Cog Hill and had to fight furiously to make his way back into fourth place by Sunday.

“As much as it pleased me to rebound after that tough start, it really made it very tough for me to have any chance to win so I didn’t want to find myself in the same position here,” the 33-year-old Englishman told the media at East Lake.

“I wanted to get off to a much faster start and put myself in better position. I’m glad I did that.”

Donald has still to win a major – and will have to wait for next year to focus on that goal. In the meantime, however, he has at least three goals in his sights this week.

For along with winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, he is also one of the half-dozen or so contenders vying for the US PGA Tour Player of the Year honours.

“There are a lot of things that go along with winning this week, both for me and a few of the other guys,” Donald said.

“I’m sure there’s a little bit of added pressure. That’s why I was kind of proud of the way I played today.”

Donald was fourth in the points standings coming into this week and should he triumph at East Lake Golf Club on Sunday, he would also win the prestigious FedExCup.

However the same applies to the other four players ranked in the top five – fellow Brit Justin Rose and Americans Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

“I’m very happy with the way I played today, I felt like I was in control of the golf ball and really did a good job with my round,” said Donald, who had to wait 30 minutes before playing the final hole due to the threat of lightning.

“I played solidly, didn’t make too many mistakes. It’s always a good sign that my swing is in good positions. I’m hitting the ball pretty far, another good sign.”