After finishing tied fourth in his first event as a European Tour Member last week in Durban, Germany’s Max Kieffer impressed once again during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, firing a four under par 68 in his maiden competitive outing at Leopard Creek.
In the weather-curtailed Nelson Mandela Championship last week, the 22 year old rookie, who gained his European Tour playing privileges after finishing 14th in the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2012, missed out on a place in the sudden-death play-off by just one shot and looked to have brought that form north to sultry Mpumalanga on Thursday.
Kieffer made a steady start after beginning on the tenth at Leopard Creek, making eight straight pars before a stunning eagle at the par five 18th.
Having found the centre of the fairway from the tee, the Düsseldorf man hit a pin-point four iron approach that was just inches away from becoming only the third albatross in the history of the tournament.
As it was, a tap-in eagle followed before further gains at the long second and driveable par four sixth saw Kieffer finish with a blemish-free 68, just two shots shy of first round leader Grégory Bourdy, as his transition onto the top tier of European golf continued to progress smoothly.
“I’m just hitting it very well at the moment and seeing everything very clearly,” he said. “I see the lines on the putts and see how the chips are going to roll, so it seems quite easy when it’s like that.
“My short game is very good. Last week the greens were a similar type of grass to the greens to here so I feel quite well prepared and know how they are going to react so that helps with being confident in all my decisions.”
Like many of his contemporaries, embarking on his first visit to the layout perched on the edge of the magnificent Kruger National Park, Kieffer is soaking up the unique atmosphere of Leopard Creek and all the wonderful wildlife and scenery that accompanies it.
“This is my first time here and it’s really nice – an amazing place. Just being here is great, seeing all the animals, it’s a totally different type of tournament to experience than anywhere else I have ever played.
“I will just take it day by day – like I did last week, even though it was a bit different there – and that’s all you can do after the first round. There are 54 more holes to come and that’s a lot, but I’ll just try to play the same tomorrow because it seems to be working!”