Morten Orum Madsen continued his fine start to the season at the Barclays Kenya Open as he took a two shot lead in the first round at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi thanks to a seven under par 64.
Madsen has come flying out of the blocks this year, finishing tied runner-up in the first appearance of his rookie Challenge Tour season at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Challenge earlier this month.
The young Dane continued in the same vein in Kenya as he capitalised on the cooler morning conditions with a superb opening round, with birdies at the fourth, sixth and seventh helping him reach the turn on three under par.
An eagle on the par five tenth took him to five under before he dropped a shot on the 11th, but a superb run-in on the home stretch, with three consecutive birdies from the 16th, handed him the outright overnight lead.
“I played pretty solid today,” said the 23 year old. “I hit the ball really well and I holed some decent putts, particularly towards the end.
“I almost holed my second shot on the tenth so that was a good start to the back nine and I pushed on from there. Six birdies and an eagle on the card is always nice, and I was pleased to have only one dropped shot. Hopefully I can post another low score tomorrow and be in contention for the weekend.”
“I played really well in Colombia and had a chance to win, so that was a good confidence boost early in the season,” he added. “I just wanted to try to maintain that form before this tournament so I went to Spain to practise, then had a couple of days back home to relax before coming here.
“I played an ECCO Tour event in Spain to stay sharp. At this time of the season you just want to play as many rounds as you can with a scorecard in your pocket. It was good preparation.”
Two players shared second spot on five under, with South African Tyrone Mordt signing for a flawless round of 66. Birdies on the 17th and 18th helped him reach the turn in two under, having teed off on the tenth, before he gained further shots at the fourth, seventh and eighth.
“I had five birdies and no bogeys, which is always nice,” said the 28 year old. “Any time I missed the green my short game was very good. I chipped and putted really well today and just kept plodding along.
“I’ve played here the last two years. Last year I shot seven under in the first round but then really didn’t play well in the next three rounds and finished tied 49th. Hopefully this year I can carry on playing well after a good start.”
He was joined by Seve Benson, who has returned to the Challenge Tour after a back injury in 2010 hampered his progress on The European Tour.
The Englishman, who has won twice on the Challenge Tour and finished tied ninth in the season-opening Gujurat Kensville Challenge, said: “I made a great start by birdieing the tenth and 11th holes so that gave me some momentum. I bogeyed the 15th but after that it was very steady. I played some great golf and gave myself a lot of chances, and thankfully I was able to take a few of them with some good putts.
“I’m managing my back well and so far it’s not giving me any problems on the golf course, which is pleasing.
“I’m really enjoying it this week. I’m just taking it one round at a time and if I can produce another one like that tomorrow I’ll be very happy.”
There were four players on four under, including Dismas Indiza, who was providing the strongest home challenge as the Kenyan carded six birdies and two bogeys..
Scotland’s Jamie McLeary, Jurrian Van Der Vaart of the Netherlands and Englishman Matt Ford joined the 43 year old in tied fourth, three shots off the lead.