Portugal’s Ricardo Santos set a sizzling Africa Open pace on Thursday with a nine-birdie first-round 62 at East London Golf Club.
Santos, 31, snatched four birdies on the front nine of the par-71 course in the Indian Ocean town and another five coming back.
He leads by two strokes from Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, Richard Bland and Rhys Davies of Britain, and South Africa’s Garth Mulroy.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Scot David Drysdale are among six competitors on 65 and title-holder Darren Fichardt of South Africa is in a large group who carded 66s in good conditions.
Superb tee-to-green play by Santos, who won the 2012 Madeira Islands Open in his homeland, set up the birdie blitz.
“I did not miss a fairway and put the ball very close to the pin,” said the Portuguese player, who also enjoys snooker and horse racing.
“That is the key to success on this course,” added the player lying 89th in the European Tour rankings this season having earned 46,000 euros (US$63,000).
“Today was definitely one of the rounds of my career,” Santos said, recalling a round that twice reaped three consecutive birdies.
“To shoot minus-nine you have to play awesome golf, so I’m really pleased with every piece of my game. I played solidly and gave myself a lot of birdie chances,” he said.