Madsen makes his mark

12/8/2012 5:05:45 PM
Morten Orum Madsen  (Getty Images)
Morten Orum Madsen (Getty Images)
Morten Orum Madsen made a dream start to his first event as a fully-fledged European Tour Member as a five under par 60 gave him a share of the lead after the first round of The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.

As play finally got underway at Royal Durban - with the course shortened to a par 65 in order to avoid the most saturated areas - the 24 year old Danish rookie started well with an eight iron approach to six feet at the tenth – his first – before the first of two chip-ins at the 13th.

A seven iron to five feet at the 16th and an eight foot putt on the 18th saw the Challenge Tour graduate turn in 27, although his round threatened to unravel when he missed a two footer for par at the first and pulled his approach against an advertising board at the fourth before duffing his first chip.

However, he holed from off the green again at the next, hit a wedge to ten feet at the eighth and finished by driving the green at the 305 yard last and two-putting to lead alongside South African Tim Clark.

“It was fun,” said Madsen. “We’ve had a long wait to get started, but it was nice to finally get out there and hit some shots again.

“I chipped in twice, and that’s sometimes what you’ve got to do to have the good rounds, you have to be a little fortunate.”

The tournament has been reduced to 36 holes after the unseasonably heavy rain and on the frustration of having the season’s start delayed by two days, Madsen added: “There is a group of Danish players sticking together, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of entertaining ourselves. We went to the movies a couple of times and just hung out to pass the time.

“The other Danish guys are Andreas (Harto) and JB Hansen. They just got their cards from the Challenge Tour as well, so we’ve been hanging out quite a bit. It’s nice to have a group of guys like that. We all got top-20 on the Challenge Tour last year and we’ve been having this whole experience together, which is nice.

“I was really excited to get going. This is the dream, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

“It’s a strange situation. We knew we’d only be playing two rounds, so it felt like you had to get out there and get after it. If you’re too far back after today, it’s going to be tough to jump a lot of people tomorrow. 

“It’s changed a bit to a sprint, and it was really nice to get some birdies on the board early, so I felt like I could attack it and play more freely, Instead of trying to force it.

“I like my chances. It’s a good position I’m in right now; I probably have to go out tomorrow and focus on my own game, play it shot-by-shot. I know it’s kind-of cliché, but that’s what I have to do, and see where it puts me after 18 holes.”

The altered course saw Clark card an unusual hat-trick of birdie twos from the 13th in his six-birdie round; the only blemish coming when he missed a 20 foot par putt at the sixth.

“It wasn’t that easy out there, but I was amazed at how good the greens were with all the rain they had,” said Clark. “The greens were pretty firm and obviously great to putt. 

“If it is going to be a two round tournament, you’ve got to go low. 

“Normally you can sort of pace yourself, get to the weekend, play in the weekend and sneak home; but right now you’ve got to go as low as you can and be aggressive.”

Clark’s compatriot Lindani Ndwandwe, who had an eagle two at the second as well as six birdies – one of them a chip-in at the seventh - two bogeys and a double bogey during an eventful morning, shares third with England’s Chris Lloyd.

Reggae fan Ndwandwe, who has won twice on the co-sanctioning Sunshine Tour, added: “In every tournament if you give yourself a good start you always have a chance. Getting a good start out there is always a boost to your confidence.”