Ruaidhri McGee four behind leader Jamie Donaldson at the Czech Masters

Donegal golfer well-placed after carding an opening two-under-par 70 in Prague

 Ruaidhri McGee: four off the pace and best of the Irish following an opening 70 at the Czech Masters at Albatross Golf Resort.  Photo:  Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Ruaidhri McGee: four off the pace and best of the Irish following an opening 70 at the Czech Masters at Albatross Golf Resort. Photo: Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 01:00

Ruaidhri McGee proved best of the Irish as he registered an opening two-under-par 70 to trail leader Jamie Donaldson by four shots at the Czech Masters.

The Rosapenna man opened with a bogey and carded a double bogey at the 14th at the Albatross Golf Resort. There were five birdies in between – at holes two, three, eight, nine and 12 – and McGee came home in 70 for a share of 22nd after the first round.

The Donegal golfer’s best finish on tour thus far is the tied 25th he recorded at the Lyoness Open in Austria in June. He was tied for 103rd in the Irish Open two weeks later and shared 98th in the Madeira Island Open in May.

Simon Thornton is alongside him on two under, while Kevin Phelan, Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie are level par, one ahead of Damien McGrane and four ahead of David Higgins. Automatic places Donaldson moved a step closer to making the European Ryder Cup team with a sparkling 66. The Welshman currently holds the eighth of nine automatic places for the team in Gleneagles due to his position on the world points list but a combined winning haul of just under €30,000 in Prague and in Italy next week would see him qualify via the European list.

And a six-under par round gave the 38-year-old a one-shot lead in a tournament which carries a €166,660 first prize. Donaldson may not have to secure the necessary money this week and next but qualification from the European list would be a relief with Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher also battling it out for the final place in the world standings.

McDowell, Donald and Poulter are all playing in the Barclays in New Jersey this week but Gallacher is also present in eastern Europe and fired a two-under par 70 playing alongside Donaldson.

Both men opened with a birdie but Donaldson dropped a shot on the third before further birdies at the fourth, eighth and ninth saw him reach the turn in 33.

Another shot was dropped on 11 but birdies at 12, 14, 17 and 18 saw him come home in the same score and secure a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg.

Gallacher had nine pars from two to 10 before a dropped shot on 11 had him level for the day. But two further birdies followed on 12 and 17 moved the Scot into red figures. There was a 10-way tie for third place which included Paul Waring, Kenneth Ferrie, Danny Willett, Lee Slattery, Soren Kjeldsen and Wales’ Bradley Dredge.

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