Madsen’s South African safari rolls on

He’s in virgin territory right now, but Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark revelled in the exploration on his way to a seven-under-par 65 on Thursday to lead the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.


He held a one-shot edge over South Africa’s Allan Versfeld and Ricardo Santos of Portugal who each had an eagle and didn’t drop a shot on their way to their 66s, while defending champion Charl Schwartzel headed up a group of four players – the others were Frenchman Victor Riu, Richard Finch of England and Scot David Drysdale – on four-under, two off the pace.


The 25-year-old Dane from the same club as Thomas Bjorn won the South African Open Championship last week to take his maiden professional title, and he’d heard that backing that kind of performance the week after might be a little tough.


“I’ve got a bunch of confidence right now,” he said. “I really believe that I’m going to hit good shots on pretty much every shot. I’ve heard it’s tough to come out the week after you’ve won and play well. I felt pretty good building up to this week and I just wanted to go out there and put some solid shots together.”


It wasn’t a flawless performance by Madsen, but it might as well have been. He made a bogey on six, and he was a little wayward on other occasions.


“I hit some not-so-good shots out there too,” he said. “I hit a really poor drive on 17, when I just had a little mental lapse out there. Luckily for me, I could chop it out and probably hit the shot of the day from there – a five-iron from 175 metres to eight or 10 feet and made the putt for par.


“That was big coming down the last hole and gave me a massive boost,” he added.


It was enough of a boost to see him take that trusty five-iron out of the rough to go for the green on his second shot on the 495-metre (541-yard) par-five 18th hole which has been a watery grave for many with its island green.


“I’ve seen and heard about water at the 18th. The greens are more receptive than they’ve been in the past, so you can still land a shot from the rough on the green and stop it. That was what I tried and I managed to pull it off,” he said.


In second after the first round, Versfeld made his eagle on the 13th after starting his round on the 10th, and that was the only time he threatened par on his first nine. “I hit five-iron in, pitched it just short, it rolled up and I sank the putt,” he said. “The putt was four or five metres, straight downhill, so it was good.”


His perseverance paid off and he made four birdies on his way in to share second with Santos, who made an eagle three on the 18th to close his round off in style – but not enough to catch the Dane.


For Madsen, the South African expedition continues. “I wasn’t expecting to go out and shoot 65 today,” he said. “I knew I was playing well, so I wanted to put a decent round together. I won last week and I’m over the moon happy, so everything that happens this week is icing on the cake. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.”


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