De Jager’s birdie streak gives him early Alfred Dunhill lead

Louis de Jager made three birdies in a row on his opening nine in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to take an early share of the lead of the tournament at five-under-par 67.

He shared that lead at Leopard Creek Country Club with South African countryman Oliver Bekker, and Englishmen Steve Webster and Richard Bland.

“I hit the ball well, and missed my only green on the last by about 10 centimetres,” he said. “It was good ball-striking to hit 17 greens, so I’m really chuffed with how I hit the ball.”

The only blemish on his card came on the 176-metre (192-yard) 12th, when he let the slippery downhill putt he left himself after a good tee shot get away from him. “You have to check the putts from all angles and I slipped up on that one on 12. I didn’t see from the side that it had such a downhill roll. It got away from me and went past about six feet and I just missed the return,” he said.

He started with a birdie on the second to get his tournament underway, and then came his sequence of three consecutive birdies from the sixth to the eighth: “Six is quite short, so if you hit a good drive it’s quite easy. I hit a good one and chipped to a foot, so it was a tap-in for birdie,” he said.

“I hit a good tee shot on seven and rolled in a nice put. On eight they’ve put the tee boxes forward so you can get quite close. Usually it’s a driver, six-iron but today it was a driver, wedge. I took advantage of them moving it up, and that got my round going,” he added.

Bekker’s round also had a single bogey, which came on the fifth after his round began on the 10th. Webster and Bland, on the other hand, were flawless.

“Very pleasing, especially around a course that can play as tough as Leopard Creek,” said Bland. “To be bogey-free is very, very nice. To be fair I never looked like dropping a shot, so it was just one of those rounds of golf you really enjoy playing.”

Webster is looking for a first victory in South Africa in his first outing on Leopard Creek. “I’ve had four seconds in South Africa, and came so close last week,” he said of his play-off loss to Scott Jamieson in the Nelson Mandela Championship. “It would be nice to go one better, but I’ve just got to see what happens. I’ve only played this course once. I played nine holes in the practice round, and that’s it. It’s my first time here. Great setting, and I’m really happy I’ve come down.”

For De Jager, it’s about taking what he achieved in the first round, and building on it. “The year has been good and bad, but I haven’t played that well this year,” he said. “I’ve been working quite hard on my golf swing and my fitness. I’m building a good foundation and I think in the long run it’s going to be good.”

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