Four of the world’s top five golfers, including No. 1 Rory McIlroy, are at Lake Malaren this week, but it was world No. 51 Jamie Donaldson who outshone all the stars yesterday.
The Welshman shot a course-record 10-under-par 62 to lead the BMW Masters by four shots after the first round.
Donaldson won his first tour title at the Irish Open at Royal Portrush earlier this season after 10 years and 255 tournaments of trying.
He would be wise not to look over his shoulder when he tees off in the final group today.
If he does, he will see a world-class chasing pack headed by Ryder Cup stars Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari at six-under bearing down on him.
More ominously, USPGA champion McIlroy, who won on this course last year when the tournament was an invitational event, lurks just one shot further back after a birdie on 18 gave the Northern Irishman a 67.
Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal also shot a sublime bogey-free 67 to be five off the lead.
McIlroy said the benign, windless conditions made good scoring possible, but was still mightily impressed by Donaldson’s round.
“Jamie has shot 10-under, which is phenomenal scoring, and I was just happy to stay somewhere within touching distance,” he said.
Far from out of the picture, with 54 holes still to play on the long and demanding Jack Nicklaus-designed 7,607-yard course, are world No. 5 Justin Rose (four-under), No. 3 Luke Donald and No. 4 Lee Westwood (both on two-under).
However, it was Donaldson who sparkled in Shanghai and he rated the bogey-free 62 as one of the rounds of his life, despite having twice shot 61 in Tour events.
“Yeah it’s up there with the best rounds I’ve ever shot. The golf course is harder than the other two I played, the other low scores. The golf course is no pushover by any stretch of the imagination,” the 37-year-old Donaldson said.
Donaldson’s round contained 10 birdies, five each on front and back nines, and eight pars.
Also at four-under alongside Rose are major winners Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Martin Kaymer of Germany.