Frenchman Bourdy leads Dunhill Championship
MALELANE, South Africa (AFP) –
Gregory Bourdy shot a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to take the lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Golf Estate on Thursday.
The Frenchman started the day strongly with a birdie on the par-four first hole, then continued his clean slate with five more on the fifth, sixth, eleventh, 12th and 16th.
“I’m very happy, because it’s not an easy course and it’s never easy to play a round without any bogeys. I played a very consistent game and had a lot of birdie opportunities,” said the 30-year-old.
“I’ve played very consistent and felt great, especially with my irons. That’s why from the beginning I was very close to the pins and made some birdies very quickly,” added the three-time European Tour title winner.
“I didn’t miss a lot of shots, just a few, but they were very close to the fairways and the greens. I’m pretty happy to play like that on such a competitive course,” he said.
Six players followed hot on his heels, only one stroke behind, in the second European Tour event of the 2013 season at the par-72 6,665-metre course, including Charl Schwartzel, who won the Thai Golf Championship by 11 strokes last week.
The 28-year-old South African shot a bogey-free 67 and five evenly-spaced birdies at the picturesque course on the southern border of the world-famous Kruger National Park.
He was tied with countrymen Louis de Jager, Oliver Bekker and Darren Fichardt as well as Englishmen Steve Webster and Richard Bland.
“Whenever you can start off with a five-under it’s good. Like I always say: you can’t win on the first day, but you can sure lose it,” said the 2010 Masters Champion, who won at Leopard Creek in 2005 and was runner up four times.
“I’ve always liked the course. It always seems to suit my eye, and it’s got some sort of relaxing feel about it, so the combination goes well together,” he added.
“I got off to a good start being three under after six, but I should have been six-under,” said the 37-year-old.
“I missed three from eight feet in the first three holes, which was a bit frustrating, but then I got the rhythm with the putter.”
“I’ve had four seconds in South Africa, and came so close last week. It would be nice to go one better, but I’ve just got to see what happens.”
World number five Louis Oosthuizen had a disastrous start with a four-over-par on the par-four third. He bogeyed the sixth and 13th holes as well to card a one-over-par total of 73.
Defending champion Garth Mulroy, also playing on native soil, shot six birdies like the leader, but lost three shots with bogeys on the ninth, 14th and 17th, and two more with a double bogey on the 12th.
The tournament is co-sanctioned by South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.