AKRON, Ohio – When 36-year-old Jamie Donaldson won the Irish Open a few weeks ago, he wasn’t quite sure of the collateral rewards. He just knew it was the culmination of a long journey toward his first European Tour victory.
A journey that lasted 254 starts, to be exact.
Whether he realized it at the time or not, the win got him into the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, which would be his first WGC event. Though he had played in the 2011 U.S. PGA Championship, Donaldson was getting a whole new taste of elite competition at Firestone Country Club’s South Course.
For a WGC neophyte, Donaldson handled it relatively well in his opening round. He shot an eventful 2-under 68 – an effort that featured five birdies and three bogeys – to stand five shots behind leader Jim Furyk.
Donaldson will get his second round under way at 12:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time today.
“It’s awesome. There’s not a blade of grass out of place out there,” said Donaldson about Firestone. “It’s quite incredible the way it’s set up. It’s quite a tough test of golf. You’ve got to hit fairways and lots of them.”
Donaldson missed seven fairways during his first round, and three of those resulted in his bogeys (he managed to save par on the other four). He admitted to having played a bit “iffy” since his win at the Irish Open a little over a month ago but believes his consistency is beginning to return.
This has been an exciting time for the Welshman. Besides scoring that long-awaited victory, he also became a father for the first time some four months ago. He has a son named Max.
“He’s great,” said Donaldson with a big smile. “He’s keeping us up at night, but he’s awesome.”
The new baby will be the only thing keeping Donaldson up at night now. He no longer has to carry the pressure of getting that first win.
He said he’s not going to be putting any extra pressure on himself during his first sojourn to Firestone. He’s simply going to treat it like any other event and use it as a learning experience and a stepping stone to what he hopes will be more victories.
“It’s all a learning curve, isn’t it” he said. “You never stop learning in this game, and this is a great place to learn playing against the best field of the year. I’m looking forward to getting back to this level.”
– Chuck Curti