Home hope Bekker out in front at Alfred Dunhill Championship

Home favourite Oliver Bekker made a strong start to the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa as he claimed the first-round lead.

Bekker took pole position through the opening 18 holes after battling initial strong winds to reach a six-under 66 at the Leopard Creek Country Club on Thursday.

The South African carded just one bogey, while a string of four consecutive birdies on the back nine allowed him to build a lead that still stood at the end of the day’s play.

Bekker holds a one-stroke advantage over Dimitrios Papadatos, with Raphael Jacquelin another shot back, just ahead of nine players on three under, including reigning champion Brandon Stone. 

Pace-setter Bekker has never won on the European Tour, but he has found some form in recent weeks, finishing joint-seventh at the Mauritius Open last time out.

And after another fine day, Bekker reflected on how the Malelane course might work to his advantage.

“It’s definitely a great afternoon on the golf course,” he said. “The wind died a little bit on us, so I’m glad to have been able to take advantage of that.

“I hit it really good. The greens are really firm but I drove it well, so I was in fairway most of the time and could control my ball. I made one or two but, all in all, I just played solid golf.

“I think the changes on this golf course are good for my game. I, traditionally, have not played that great over here but I felt like it suited my game a little bit better. I’m looking forward to what this week’s got in store.”

The highest ranked player in the field, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, signed for a modest 71.