SIMON DYSON – York’s golfer on a top 50 mission – posted a promising first-round start in the final event of the European Tour.

Dyson hit a worthy three-under-par 68 at the Earth Course to be just off the early pacesetters in the £6 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The 34-year-old is bidding to make a last-ditch ascent from his current world ranking of 68 to the leading 50, which would guarantee him an automatic place in all four majors next year.

Playing alongside Spain’s Sergio Garcia – one of the 12 European Ryder Cup heroes all featuring together in their first event since their triumph in Chicago in September – Dyson got off to a superb start with a three on the par-four opening hole.

Donald, a winner in Japan last Sunday, became the man to catch again.

He led the field by one from Scot Marc Warren, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and world number one Rory McIlroy — uncatchable at the top of the circuit’s money list – who all shot 66.

Donald moved back up to second in the rankings ahead of Tiger Woods by taking the Dunlop Phoenix title at the weekend and is seeking to match McIlroy’s four wins this year.

He birdied the fifth, seventh and eighth holes to turn in 33, started for home with two more, made a 15-footer at the short 13th, and only just missed an eagle attempt at the 626-yard 14th.

Joint fourth with 67s were Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Richie Ramsay and Fredrik Andersson Hed.