By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - Former world number one Luke Donald was left frustrated after some late bogeys marred a blistering start to his first round at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on Thursday.
Donald sunk birdies on the opening three holes of Dubai’s earth course, bogeyed the fourth and then picked up shots at the next three greens to be five under after seven holes.
“It was a game of two halves. I got off to a great start, I was really hot out of the gate,” Donald told Reuters.
Bogeys on eight, 12 and 18 -- plus a birdied 11th -- dragged the 37-year-old down the provisional leaderboard.
“Five under through 11, I would have hoped to have finished lower, but there a lot of positives,” said the Englishman.
“The first 12-13 holes, there wasn’t much wind. The conditions were perfect, (but) the wind then started to pick up a bit. The course is in great shape, the greens are soft and pure, so if you’re in control of your ball you can make birdies.”
The world number 77 ended 2011 as the world’s top-ranked player but has endured a difficult few years, slipping to his lowest rank for more than a decade and without a European tour victory since 2012.
“It has been a tough season and I want to finish on a high. I feel like I’m going in the right direction,” said Donald, who tied for fifth at last month’s British Masters.
The Tour has changed its member requirements for next year so that players must compete in at least five tournaments per season -- excluding majors and World Golf Championship (WGC) events. Previously, the minimum was 13 including these elite tournaments.
“If that change hadn’t come into effect I would have struggled to get my number of events -- now my schedule will be very similar,” said Donald, who also plays on the U.S. PGA Tour.
His next tournament on the European circuit will be May’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
(Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Toby Davis)