Thursday, 10 December 2009

Ulrich Van den Berg gave the home fans something to smile about at Leopard Creek as he took the clubhouse lead at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

And just a week after missing out at The European Tour Qualifying School Sweden's Pelle Edberg hit back with an opening 65 in South Africa.

The seven under par display left the 30 year old only a stroke behind early leader Van den Berg.

Edberg no longer has a full European Tour card, but earned a place in the opening event of the new season thanks to his 132nd place on last season’s Race to Dubai.

Joint runner-up at the SAS Masters on his home soil last year, he failed to make the 72 hole cut on his tenth trip to the school and so faces an uncertain future.

But birdies at five of the last seven holes made him the closest morning challenger to Van den Berg, a 34 year old who has won five times in his home country, but has yet to make his mark on The European Tour.

His compatriot Titch Moore was in third place following a six under 66, while the group one further back included Irish pair Damien McGrane and Shane Lowry and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, winner of last month's UBS Hong Kong Open.

Lowry, who as an amateur won The 3 Irish Open in May, reached six under before bogeying the short seventh - his 16th - while former winner Charl Schwartzel led the field at seven under, but dropped shots at the seventh and ninth.

James Kingston began with five straight birdies, but in the end had to settle for a 68, while title favourite Ernie Els was among the later starters and stood one under at the turn.

Going best of the later starters was England's Benn Barham, who like Edberg failed to win back a full European Tour card at last week's school in Spain.

Runner-up in the Austrian Open in September, Barham was five under and joint fourth with seven to play.

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