Gregory Bourdy (Getty Images)
Grégory Bourdy edged ahead of a large group on five under par as the Frenchman’s 66 gave him the first round lead at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The 30 year old shot six unanswered birdies to snatch a one shot lead over South African quartet Charl Schwartzel, Oliver Bekker, Louis de Jager and Darren Fichardt as well as English pair Richard Bland and Steve Webster at Leopard Creek.
After birdieing the first Bourdy carded back-to-back gains at the fifth and sixth to turn in 32.
The three-time European Tour winner picked up further shots at the 11th and 12th before birdieing the short 16th from 20 feet.
The last time Bourdy hit the front of a tournament in South Africa he went on to become the first Frenchman to win the Telkom PGA Championship by a massive six strokes, before Schwartzel denied him the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit by winning the last tournament of the season.
“This isn’t an easy course so I’m very happy to have played well here,” Bourdy said of his start. “I played very solid, consistent golf. I had a lot of birdie opportunities, but to make six is good enough for me.
“I felt great with my irons today, so early on in my round I made birdies very quickly. But I’ve felt good about my game for a few weeks now and I’ve been waiting for a better performance. Now I have that opportunity this week.
“I love South Africa. I’ve played a lot of tournaments here, and the Telkom PGA Championship win was key in my career. I had just lost my European Tour card and I came here and played well.”
Of those a shot further back, pre-tournament favourite and 2005 winner Schwartzel also managed to avoid dropping a shot, and is now targeting back-to-back victories after his runaway success in Thailand last week.
“It’s a nice start,” he said. “Whenever you can start off with a five under it’s good. Like I always say you can’t win on the first day, but you can sure lose it.
“I’ve always liked the course. It always seems to suit my eye, and it’s got some sort of relaxing feel about it, so the combination goes well together.”
Webster, beaten in a play-off by Scott Jamieson at last week’s Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa, picked up where he left off as he carded five birdies in his bogey-free round.
Playing his 448th European Tour event but having gone more than five years without a victory, he had a hattrick of birdies from the 13th, before further birdies at the third and fifth – his 12th and 14th.
“I got off to a good start being three under after six, but I should have been six-under,” said Webster.
“I missed three from eight feet in the first three holes, which was a bit frustrating, but then I got the rhythm with the putter. Hit it nice off the tee, some lovely irons, and tapped a few putts in, which makes all the difference.
“I’ve had four seconds in South Africa, and came so close last week. It would be nice to go one better, but I’ve just got to see what happens.”
Webster’s compatriot Bland – who took the 119th and last card last season - birdied three of his last four holes.