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Dylan Mostert and John Catlin tied at the top in Kenya

Dylan Mostert and John Catlin tied at the top in Kenya

Dylan Mostert's fine recent form continued on day one of the 2023 Magical Kenya Open Presented by Absa, as he fired an opening 64 to share the lead with John Catlin.

South African Mostert won his maiden European Challenge Tour title at the Nelson Mandela Bay Championship on home soil two weeks ago, and he impressed once again on Thursday as he kicked off a run of three successive DP World Tour starts, setting the early target courtesy of a brilliant birdie blitz.

Starting from the tenth tee, Mostert picked up five shots on the front nine before making three more gains after the turn.

The 24-year-old's only blemish came at the ninth - his last hole of the day - as he missed his tricky par putt there to head into the clubhouse on seven under par.

He was soon joined at that mark by fellow morning starter Catlin, with the American carding an eagle and five birdies in his flawless first-round effort.

Wil Besseling and Pierre Pineau sat in a tie for third on six under, with Gavin Green, Borja Virto, Tom Murray, Nick Bachem and Casey Jarvis another shot back in joint-fifth.

Mostert began his round with a hat-trick of birdies at the tenth, 11th and 12th before further gains at the 16th and 18th took him to the turn in 30 blows.

After picking up another shot from around 12 feet at the third, Mostert made it back-to-back birdies to reach seven under.

He opened up a two-shot lead with a birdie at the sixth but surrendered a late bogey when he could not save par on the ninth.

Mostert said: "I'm very pleased. I played very solid today, kept the momentum going throughout the round. 

"Made some good putts, hit a lot of greens. 

"The greens are small, so if you’re hitting greens you’re going to have a lot of chances. I managed to make a few putts, I’ll just keep doing the same thing. I’m excited for tomorrow.

"The greens are quite soft in the morning, they definitely firm up throughout the day. As soon as the wind picks up and the heat gets up they firm up and get faster, much tougher. It’s definitely an advantage to play early in the morning.

"I’m just grateful to be here, I got an invite. It fits nicely in my schedule and I’ll have three DP World Tour events in a row now, going to South Africa."

Catlin also started from the tenth tee and, like Mostert, produced a remarkable burst of scoring on his front nine.

After starting his round with back-to-back birdies, the three-time DP World Tour winner made two more on the 15th and 16th before making an eagle at the 18th to turn in 29.

He then chipped in from the bank beside the sixth green for his only back-nine birdie, joining Mostert at the summit after keeping his card clean.

Catlin said: "I feel like I left some out there on my back nine. I got off to a really hot start and just made some bad swings, I didn’t take advantage of the par fives and hit a really bad lay-up on the seventh.

"It was a good round of golf, I left a few out there for sure.

"A nice way to build some momentum. I feel like I’ve been close, just a poor swing here, misjudgement here, that’s all it takes out here. 

"It’s very fine margins. I was able to take two weeks off, put some work in on my game and it feels like it’s starting to pay off, so I’m really excited about that."

Uganda's Ronald Rugumayo had a day to remember as he made a hole-in-one at the par-three second.

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