Madsen maintains fine form

11/28/2013 3:39:00 PM
Morten Orum Madsen  (Getty Images)
Morten Orum Madsen (Getty Images)
Morten Ørum Madsen’s remarkable start to The 2014 Race to Dubai continued with a seven under par 65 on the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The Dane, who won his maiden European Tour title at last week’s season-opening South African Open Championship, fired eight birdies and a single bogey at Leopard Creek Country Club.

That was good enough for a one shot first round lead over South African Allan Versfeld and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos.

Versfeld returned a flawless 66 thanks to an eagle and four birdies, while Santos did likewise and finished in style with his eagle coming on the par five 18th.

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel was two shots further back on four under alongside England's Richard Finch, Scotland's David Drysdale and France's Victor Riu.

"Today it seemed easy but it definitely wasn't, it was pretty tough out there and the course was playing long with the wind," Madsen said.

"I played really solidly, I gave myself a lot of looks at birdie and a lot of shorter ones which was nice.

"I have a lot of confidence right now, I really believe I am going to hit good shots on pretty much every shot. I don't pull off all of them - I hit my tee shot on the seventh in the water - but the majority of them came off well and I rolled in some nice putts.

"I'm really, really happy with how I played, I heard it's tough to come out the week after you have won and play well but I felt pretty relaxed in the days leading up to the tournament and I just wanted to go out and see if I can put some solid shots together and I managed to do that today and put myself in a good position. Hopefully I can keep it up.

"I wasn't expecting to shoot 65 today, I knew I was playing well but I won last week so everything that happens this week or next week is going to be icing on the cake. I am just trying to enjoy the ride."

Schwartzel was five under for his first six holes, but failed to capitalise on such a blistering start.

The former Masters Tournament champion won his first European Tour title at Leopard Creek in 2005 and triumphed by 12 shots last year, just a week after winning the Thailand Open by 11 strokes.

The 29 year old has also finished second four times in what he unsurprisingly describes as his favourite event - an event in which he was a cumulative 81 under par before Thursday.

That total soon improved as Schwartzel started from the tenth with five birdies in his opening six holes, before a bogey on the 17th saw him reach the turn in 33.

A double bogey on the first then dropped him back to two under par, the World Number 21 responded quickly, holing from 12 feet for a birdie on the second and from around 50 feet for another on the par three seventh.

Scotland's Chris Doak had been six under par with three holes to play, but bogeyed the seventh and double-bogeyed the eighth and had to settle for a three under 69.

Riu’s performance was in stark contrast to last week’s missed cut at the South African Open Championship.

“Last week was my first event on The European Tour for this year,” he said, “and I was on a break in France for two weeks and I couldn’t train a lot because it was very cold.

“So it was a tough start for me, and after I missed the cut, I had last weekend and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to practice and it was much better today. I’ve got a bit more confidence.

“The course was playing very long, because the ball wasn’t running while it was cool this morning, but I was very happy with my driving. I was consistent and I was very straight.”