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Gregory Bourdy leads Alfred Dunhill Championship by one after first round

Updated: Thursday, 13 Dec 2012 17:44 | Comments

Ulster's Michael Hoey struggled to a 77
Ulster's Michael Hoey struggled to a 77

France's Gregory Bourdy is the man to catch at the Alfred Dunhill Championship after an opening six under par 66 at Leopard Creek in South Africa.

The 30-year-old from Bordeaux, three times a winner on the European Tour, leads by a stroke from a group which includes title favourite Charl Schwartzel and English pair Steve Webster and Richard Bland.

Scotland's Scott Jamieson, who beat Webster in a play-off for the Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban on Sunday, shot 70, but 2010 Open winner Louis Oosthuizen - at fifth in the world the highest-ranked player taking part - had to settle for a 73 that included a quadruple bogey eight on the 448-yard third.

There are three Irish involved with Peter Lawrie leading the way on two under following a 72, while Michael Hoey shot a 77 for a five over with Damien McGrane one shot further back.

"This isn't an easy course, so I'm very happy to have played well here," Bourdy said. "I had a lot of birdie opportunities, but to make six is good enough for me.

"I've felt good about my game for a few weeks now and I've been waiting for a better performance. Now I have that opportunity this week.

"I've always liked the course - it always seems to suit my eye and it's got some sort of relaxing feel about it" - Charl Schwartzel

"I love South Africa. I've played a lot of tournaments here and the (2006) Telkom PGA Championship win was key in my career - I had just lost my European Tour card."

Schwartzel, with one win and four second places on the course, also managed to avoid dropping a shot four days after an 11-stroke victory in Thailand.

"It's a nice start," said last year's US Masters champion. "I've always liked the course - it always seems to suit my eye and it's got some sort of relaxing feel about it."

Webster did not have a bogey either, had a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th and then picked up more strokes at the third and fifth.

"I missed three from eight feet in the first three holes, which was a bit frustrating, but then I got the rhythm with the putter," he said.

"I've had four seconds in South Africa, and came so close last week. It would be nice to go one better, but I've just got to see what happens.

"This is my first time here. People have been telling me to come for years. I've always had a long break at Christmas, but I'm really glad I made the effort."

Bland, who kept his Tour card by the skin of his teeth last month, birdied three of his last four holes to climb into joint second with Webster, Schwartzel and three more South Africans - Darren Fichardt, Oliver Bekker and Louis De Jager.

Branden Grace, with one last chance for a sixth win of the year, is only two off the pace, but George Coetzee, fighting to stay in the world's top 50 and with it earn a US Masters debut, is only joint 40th on one under.

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