But considering he had birdied six of the previous seven and handed in a 67 in his first competitive round since missing the cut at the US Open, the world number one was still smiling.
Donald is defending the Scottish Open title he won with a closing 63 on the same lay-out last year, and he felt that if he had been just a little sharper he might have matched that.
"After three weeks off from competitive golf that was a nice solid round," he said. "Obviously I let a couple slip at the end, but overall I'm pleased.
"It's always hard when you've had a little bit of time off to be completely 100 per cent sharp, but it feels like I'm right on the cusp of figuring out exactly what I need."
Good news indeed with the Open Championship at Royal Lytham only a week away.
"Seven birdies mean I'm doing a lot of things right," Donald said.
"Conditions were pretty generous - no wind, pretty soft greens - and I wouldn't mind a bit of wind just to get that feel for next week.
"It's good to test the swing - you need to control the ball when it's windy.
"Obviously the margins (for errors) are a lot smaller next week and I've got to be a little more accurate.
"The last couple of weeks I worked extremely hard, more so on my long game than I usually do.
"I was just really disappointed with the control I had at the US Open. I felt I needed to hit left to right there, but didn't do it the right way."