Welshmen Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge stepped up the pace in their quest for a debut victory on The European Tour by sharing the lead after the first round of the dunhill championship at Houghton Golf Club, Johannesburg.
Dodd and Dredge, both thirsty for success after coming close to entering the winners’ enclosure in recent months, signed for seven under par 65s in the baking South African heat to repel another determined challenge from the host nation.
Dodd, tied fourth in the Omega Hong Kong Open last month and in the top ten again in last week’s South African Airways Open, has been seeking that elusive first success since turning professional in 1990.
The formerAmateur Champion birdied three of the last four holes to set the pace early in the day, long before late starter Dredge had even arrived at the course to begin his preparation.
He admitted: "It’s nice to have two top tens under my belt this season. I am starting to score well now and I would like to win a tournament. That’s what we are all out here for. We all believe we can win and I feel I can do it."
Dredge, twice second in 2002 and with a total of ten top tens to his name, chased Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie all the way in the Volvo Masters Andalucia, eventually finishing third in one of the most prestigious events of the year.
"I wouldn’t have done anything differently in the tournaments where I had chances" he said. "I’m learning all the time and it’s just a case of getting into the right position, being patient and waiting for the putts to drop."
Hard on the heels of the Welsh pair are Zimbabwe’s Sean Farrell and two South Africans, Louis Oosthuizen and Callie Swart. At 20, Oosthuizen is already being tipped to go right to the top, and he indicated as much in a remarkable round at his home club, Mossel Bay, two months ago.
The youngster shot an astonishing 57 on the par 72 course, breaking 60 for the first time, and that kind of red hot scoring was in evidence at Houghton. Starting at the tenth, he covered the stretch between the 15th and 18th in five under par.
Oosthuizen also gave a hearty vote of thanks to Lee Westwood, who offered to bring out some Ping putters for his ISM stablemate to try out. He said: "I have to thank Lee for bringing them out here. I’ve got the one I want now and it’s very nice."
Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open Champion, and last week’s champion, Trevor Immelman, were caught out by the tough ninth hole, their final hole of the day. Lawrie three putted from 20 feet for a bogey and four under par 68 while Immelman ran up a double bogey six for a 69. Defending champion Justin Rose shot a one over par 73.