Morten Orum Madsen took the early lead at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, following up his first European Tour title last weekend with a seven-under 65 in the opening round at Leopard Creek in Malelane, South Africa, on Thursday.
The Dane had eight birdies and just a single dropped shot for a one-stroke advantage over South Africa’s Allan Versfeld and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos.
Defending champion Charl Schwartzel was in a four-way tie for fourth after a 68, while John Daly of the US shot a 72 for a tie for 48th place in his second tournament back from right-elbow surgery in July.
Madsen came from behind to win the South African Open last weekend, but was out in front early at the second event on the Race to Dubai. A bogey at the par-three seventh was his only blemish.
“I have a lot of confidence right now,” Madsen said.
“I really believe I am going to hit good shots on pretty much every shot,” he added.
Versfeld carded an eagle and four birdies in a bogey-free round, while Santos finished with an eagle to add to four birdies.
Schwartzel had seven birdies, including five on his first six holes, but the 2011 Masters champion failed to fully capitalize on the fast start by making a bogey and a double-bogey around the turn.
Starting at No. 10, he dropped his first shot on No. 17 and then double-bogeyed the par-four first.
Schwartzel won by 12 shots a year ago and has also finished second four times at the Leopard Creek course in northern South Africa.
Daly made his return to golf at the BMW Masters in China last month after surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his elbow. He struggled for consistency on Thursday with two bogeys and a birdie going out, and two birdies and a bogey coming home.
Adam Scott clawed his way back to the top of the leaderboard at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney yesterday, putting himself two shots ahead of Rory McIlroy.
The reigning Masters champion shot a two-under 70 to move to 12-under and two strokes clear of Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, who posted a seven-under 65 and finished 10-under.
It was the fourth time McIlroy had shot a 65 this season and one stroke more than the 64 he recorded in August’s FedEx Cup Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
After what he described as a “wasteful” first day of 69, current world No. 6 McIlroy had nine birdies in his round and only 25 putts.
Scott headed into the second day leading by three shots and extended that to five when he birdied the first and then holed a 50-yard chip for a birdie at the third.
He then double-bogeyed the fourth and dropped a shot at the next to find himself trailing a stroke behind McIlroy.
However, the Australian regrouped in the windy and sometimes rainy conditions to grab back-to-back birdies at seven and eight, and also at the 12th and 13th holes, finishing bogey, birdie, bogey and just missing a birdie by millimeters at the last.
In a dream matchup, Scott is set to play the third round in the company of McIlroy.
While Scott has already tasted success four times this year, his 24-year old rival, apart from defeating Tiger Woods earlier this month in China, is still looking for a first victory this year.
Australia’s Richard Green was in third place after a round of 66 for a nine-under total, while Taiwan’s Chan Shih-chang was tied for 41st place after a 68 gave him a even-par total of 144.
Additional reporting by staff writer