THE Quartet of Ryder Cup stars strutting their stuff at the ISPS Handa Celtic Manor Wales Open endured a mixed opening round as a former Team Europe member stole the show.

On a day where the first ever Belgium to play in the Ryder Cup, Nicolas Colsaerts dazzled the galleries with a sublime round of 66 and smashed the longest drive in European Tour history, it was Welshman Jamie Donaldson who did his best to fly the flag for Team Europe one week ahead of the showdown with Tom Watson’s USA team at Gleneagles.

He ended up content with a one under round of 70 that keeps him firmly in contention, five strokes behind overnight leader Joost Luiten.

“I played ok, I hit a lot of good shots and got in good positions on the fairways, but the breeze got up and I struggled to get the ball close enough to make birdies,” Donaldson told the Argus.

“It is hard to get at those pins, but overall my game is there or thereabouts and hopefully I can stay in contention in my home Open, because it is a special tournament for me.

“I’m playing well and getting good support so hopefully if I can play well today then I’ll move up that leaderboard and try and pick up some shots on the holes playing a little bit easier.”

Donaldson got the better of playing partner Lee Westwood, who had to settle for a two over par round of 73.

“I dropped shots on holes that other lads are probably picking up shots on. It was basically just rusty,” Westwood said.

“I haven’t got a lot of experience of playing this golf course. I hit what I thought were some good drives and they didn’t turn out good.

“This week is just all about getting competitive again, for me. I would have liked a better score, but there were signs of good golf there and I’m hoping to stay around for the weekend.”

The ultimate Steady Eddie of European Tour golf, Thomas Bjorn, who has gone from Ryder Cup vice-captain to team member, shot 71, level par, in what proved a really interesting trio.

In what is perhaps an indicator of potential Ryder Cup pairings, Bjorn teed up with previous Wales Open winner Thongchai Jaidee and Ryder Cup rookie Steven Gallagher.

Jaidee, who won here in 2012, shot 68 and is three off the lead and he seeks a second European Tour victory and the chance to be the first two-time winner of the Wales Open.

But Gallagher endured a nightmare, shooting 78 to leave him facing a tough task to even make the cut, adrift on seven over.

However, it was Colsaerts’ record breaking drive that will perhaps be the best remembered incident of the opening round, his mammoth 447-yard beamer down the 18th leaving him just a gap wedge to a hole he would eagle, no mean feat considering two players took quadruple bogey nines on the Twenty Ten’s signature hole, including Jose Maria Olazabal.

And Colsaerts wasn’t even happy with his monster effort.

“I thought it was too far right actually. I thought I missed the fairway and that is the difference of 100 yards, but we were all smiling when we got down there.”