India’s Rashid Khan and Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman are the closest of the chasing pack on four-under-par.
Dodt’s round included six birdies and an eagle at the par-five 18th, and the Australian limited the damage to card a six-under-par 66 around the challenging layout.
“If someone offered me six under at the start of the day, I’d have taken it. It’s not easy out there. If you’re off by just a little bit, it gets magnified by the wind. I played really solidly. I didn’t make many mistakes and the momentum of the round just kept flowing.”
There has been much talk about the gusty conditions this week, and the Ernie Els designed course, which weaves its way around Mauritius’ east coast, can be severely exposed to the elements.
“It was pretty breezy, and when you get out to three, four and five you’re right on the beach and more exposed. I hit an eight iron from 96 metres at one stage. I haven’t done that before,” Dodt said. “When you play well the conditions don’t really matter, and I think that’s what happened today. Having said that, this course can bite you at any stage, so there’s a long way to go and a lot of golf to be played,” he added.
Patience around the 7,500 yard course is key with the challenging conditions and Dodt explained that there are a few holes on the course that demand full attention. “You just try and stay in there and hang tough. You have to stay patient and limit the mistakes. Holes like 14, 15 and 16 are just straight into the wind and pars are very good scores there. If you can get through those holes, there are a couple of birdie chances coming in,” he said.
The highest placed South African after round one is Jbe’ Kruger, who withdrew from last week’s Investec Royal Swazi Open due to a lower back injury, and he gingerly felt his way around the course for a two-under-par 70, leaving him four shots off the pace.
“Firstly I have to thank the Lord, just for helping me to play. I didn’t even know if I was going to play this morning because I’ve got a not-so-great back. Thanks to all the physio’s that helped me,” said Kruger.
Kruger echoed the thoughts of the leader, highlighting the importance of keeping the errors to a minimum. “I think you’ve just got to try and eliminate the errors, or just try and hit greens really. It’s not really going to be under-par. You’ve got to try and make as little mistakes as you can and stay patient because this is a though golf course and with the wind like this I think patience is going to win it,” he added.
Seven other South Africans are one shot further back on one-under-par, including world number 62 Jaco Van Zyl, defending champion George Coetzee, and Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita ambassador Hennie Otto.