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Robin Williams leads strong South African challenge at Leopard Creek

Robin Williams leads strong South African challenge at Leopard Creek

Home favourite Robin Williams leads a long line of South African challengers as he holds a one-shot advantage after the opening round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Robin Williams

The 22-year-old, who stars on the co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour, rolled in eight birides and a bogey to sit one clear of Jayden Schaper and playing partner Manuel Elvira at seven under par.

It was inevitable for Williams to have some connection with golf after his father gave him a middle name of Tiger, in honour of the 15-time Major Champion.

Williams, who grew up in Peterborough and progressed through the English Golf system, met Woods when he was competing at the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup in Paris. He picked up two points and played alongside Ramsus and Nicolai Højgaard, the latter who starred in this year's senior event as Team Europe regained the Ryder Cup.

However, Williams has returned to his South African roots, playing under the national flag and produced a superb first round to lead at Leopard Creek Country Club.

"It was pretty fun out there, I played pretty well. I took advantage of the par fives and the short holes, and I putted well today," he said.

"It is all a learning curve for me, trying to see what my game needs in order to make cuts and compete with these guys.

"I put more pressure on myself than really I think there is and it's about learning to handle your emotions, and all of this is just an experience to learn, how to handle not only your game but your emotions in these big events.

"It is a massive confidence boost. I can always say that I shot 65 around Leopard Creek, I will always have that for the rest of my life. I can sleep happy tonight."

Williams started Thursday on the back nine, but it did not take long for him to get into the red numbers with a birdie at the 11th.

He picked up another at the 13th before successive gains from the 15th saw him reach the turn at four under par.

The youngster continued his momentum by carding birdies at the first and second to climb to six under par, only to bogey the next to drop back.

At the par-four sixth, Williams drove his tee-shot on to the green to present himself with a lengthy eagle putt, which would catapult him into the lead. His effort pulled up just short, but he tapped in for birdie to join clubhouse leader Schaper and fellow South African Casey Jarvis at the top of the leaderboard.

However, he jumped ahead at the eighth thanks to a brilliant approach to eight feet and when he rolled in the gain putt, he was the first player at seven under.

Williams kept his cool at the last when he saved par with a tricky putt to keep Schaper and Elvira at arm's length.

The closest challengers carded seven birdies and one bogey in their rounds of 66, while four more South Africans occupied the top nine in Malelane.

Amateurs Cristo Lamprecht, who hit a stunning 418-yard drive at the last, and Christian Maas were joined by Jarvis and Jaco Prinsloo at five under, alongside New Zealand's Sam Jones and Scott Jamieson.

Dean Burmester, who is attempting to write his name into the history books as he bids to win a third DP World Tour straight event, is four off the lead after a 69.

Defending champion Ockie Strydom burst into contention after carding five birdies in his first eight holes, but two double bogeys, which came either side of another gain, and a bogey at the last saw him slip to one under.

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