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British trio lead the way

Luke Donald gained quick consolation for missing out on Europe’s PGA title last week by firing a seven-under 65 to earn a share of the Madrid Masters first-round lead on Thursday.

Donald hit two spectacular eagles to share top spot late in the day with fellow Britons Rhys Davies and Jamie Donaldson.

“I can’t remember when I last made two eagles in one round,” the delighted world number 13 told reporters. “I don’t think I’ve even had one this year on the U.S. Tour.”

A double-bogey on the 71st hole last week at Wentworth scuppered Donald’s chances of glory in the PGA event and relegated him to joint second behind Simon Khan.

This time on the 17th he made one of four birdies to go with his eagles after starting his round with a bogey.

“I was disappointed but it only took 24 hours to get over last week,” added Donald. “I don’t see the value of stewing over it, just move on.”

A Ryder Cup place is Donald’s goal and now Irishman Paul McGinley suddenly found it on his radar too after a 66 earned him a share of fourth place with Dutchman Maarten Lafeber.

McGinley, 43, is strongly tipped to be one of Colin Montgomerie’s vice-captains for this October’s Ryder Cup match. But Montgomerie has given McGinley until after the British Open in July before he will approach him to act as an assistant in case he plays his way into the team.

McGinley sank the winning putt to earn Europe the 2002 honours against the U.S. and has been on the victorious side in each of his three Ryder Cups.

A spectacular chip-in for an eagle on a flawless card also containing four birdies, showed McGinley was on his way back after another knee operation last November.

“I’ve certainly not discounted playing my way into the team,” said McGinley who lies a distant 74th on the Ryder Cup standings, around 800,000 points behind the last automatic qualifier which is currently Briton Paul Casey.

Davies and Donaldson, both Welshmen, took advantage of benign morning conditions to set the target.

Davies claimed his maiden title this year with victory in the Hassan Trophy in Morocco but Donaldson has yet to better two second places in a 10-year career.

World number 11 Martin Kaymer’s indifferent spell continued, a 71 leaving him six adrift of the lead. Former world number two Sergio Garcia could only manage a 72.

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