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Thursday, 29 November 2018
Victor Perez  (Getty Images)
Victor Perez (Getty Images)

Victor Perez continued his stunning start to life on the European Tour as he grabbed a share of the lead on day one of the tri-sanctioned Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita.

The Frenchman carded nine birdies and a single bogey on Thursday afternoon to sign for a brilliant 64 and sit alongside India's S Chikkarangappa at the top of the leaderboard on eight under par.

Early clubhouse leader Jaco Van Zyl was joined on seven under by late starters Kurt Kitayama and Masahiro Kawamura after they both carded seven birdies and no bogeys in their opening 65s.

Meanwhile, Lee Slattery and Justin Harding finished their rounds with eagles at the 18th to sit in a tie for sixth alongside Matthieu Pavon, Malcolm Kokocinski, Matthias Schwab, Oliver Bekker and Alex Haindl on five under.

Perez graduated from the Challenge Tour in style after winning the Foshan Open last month before coming second at the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final in his very next event.

He carried that form into the 2019 Race to Dubai campaign, finishing in a tie for third at last week's season-opening Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi.

And, starting from the tenth tee at Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita, Perez was on song again on Thursday, firing back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th before picking up further shots at the 16th and 18th to reach the turn in 32.

The 26 year old then reeled off a hat-trick of birdies from the second to join Van Zyl at the top.

Perez dropped his only shot of the day at the short fifth but got it back with a 12-foot putt at the next to return to seven under.

The in-form Frenchman finished his round with a flourish, sending his approach at the ninth - his last - to within three feet of the cup before rolling in for a closing birdie to get to eight under.

He said: "I've been playing a lot of good golf lately.

"It's been a really good streak, a little hard to believe in golf when we know how the highs and the lows can be. 

"I'm trying to ride this wave out as long as possible and it showed again in this first round.

"I don't really know what was going right, I was kind of in the zone. I was just trying to go shot after shot."

 

Chikkarangappa reached the turn in 31 after picking up five birdies on his front nine - including three in a row from the fifth.

After making further gains at the tenth and 16th, he finished things off with a birdie at the 18th to sign for a flawless 64.

He was delighted with his performance on Thursday.

"It was a dream-come-true round today," he said. "I hit the ball great, putted really well and kept the ball on the fairway, which is key to scoring here.

"I hit 13 fairways, hit almost every green in regulation and made 25 putts. Everything was perfect today.

"I was first reserve last year and I didn’t get into the event. I had to go back home, with tears in my eyes. I was playing really solid and was eager to get the chance to play. 

"This year, I was really looking forward to coming and I’m here this week.

"If I win here, I’ll get a card both on the Asian Tour and European Tour, and that’s what I’m looking at.

"I’m going to stick to my same plan. Good tee-shots and hole putts. The weather just needs to stay the same and the good scores will come tomorrow."

Defending champion Dylan Frittelli and four-time Major Champion Ernie Els, who designed this week's host course, posted three-under-par 69s on Thursday.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KITAYAMA, KurtUSA18-20
T2S, ChikkarangappaIND18-18
T2PAVON, MatthieuFRA18-18
4HARDING, JustinRSA18-17
T5FRITTELLI, DylanRSA18-16
T5KAWAMURA, MasahiroJPN18-16

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