Madsen uses lucky break to get into contention in Durban

Morten Orum Madsen made use of a playing partner’s ball on Saturday to turn around the momentum of his opening round and to take a share of the lead of the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.

The Dane carded a five-under-par 60 on a Royal Durban Golf Club course reduced from its initial par 70 of 6,194 metres (6,773 yards) to a par 65 of 5,594 metres (5,133 yards) after the first two days were lost to play as the staff struggled to deal with the consequences of the heavy rains which have fallen in the past few months.

On the second hole – his 11th after he teed off on the 10th – he played a bunker shot which cannoned into Ruan de Smidt’s next to the pin and stopped his ball from finishing too far away.

“I hit my approach in the bunker, which left me with pretty much no shot,” he said. “I was fortunate enough that Ruan hit his chip shot out there right behind the hole. I hit before he had the chance to mark and my ball hit his ball, so it stopped maybe 12 feet from the hole and I made that for par. That was a nice momentum thing for me and I really got me going again. I played some really solid golf from there.”

It gave him a share of the halfway lead with Tim Clark in a tournament which will now be a race to the finish over 18 frantic holes on Sunday as the event has been shortened to 36 holes.

He has a one-stroke lead over local Durban professional Lindani Ndwandwe and English rookie Chris Lloyd.

Madsen is a rookie himself, having gained his European Tour card both by his finish in the Challenge Tour Rankings and then by his performance in the European Tour Qualifying School.

“I had three days at home from when I got back from Q-School to when I flew here,” he said. “I was a little bit worn out from Q-School, but at the same time I was really excited to get going. This is the dream, and I couldn’t wait to get started.”

He started his round well, with birdies on 10, 13, 15 and 18 to turn four-under, but a silly bogey on the easy par-five first – the only par-five left after the 14th was cut back by 330 metres and made into a par-three, together with three par-fours – saw the start of what could have been a bad patch for Madsen.

But the stroke of luck on the second reversed the trend, and, although he bogeyed the fourth, he made three more birdies on his way in, including on the ninth when he drove the green and two-putted from 30 feet out to put an exclamation point on his round.

Ndwandwe started on 10, like Madsen, and his start couldn’t have been more different: A double bogey on that opening hole was followed by three birdies and two bogeys as he turned in one-over-par.

A birdie on the first heralded a change of fortune and he stormed home in five-under-par 29 to finish one off the pace. “I hit a chip-in on the 11th, my second hole, which got me to two-under,” he said. “And my chip on the seventh, which was my 16th, also helped a bit,” he added of the birdie he got there.

Madsen needs to take heed of what Clark said when looking ahead to the final round: “Just come out and try to make birdies,” said the two-time South African Open champion. “Normally you can sort of pace yourself, but right now you’ve got to go as low as you can and be aggressive.”

© 2016 Sunshine Tour. All rights reserved. Website constructed by OCS Sport