Morten Orum Madsen has already triumphed in Johannesburg, winning the SA Open at Glendower in 2013, and the Dane made an early move to the top of the leaderboard in the Tshwane Open on Thursday, posting a seven-under-par 63 in the first round at Pretoria Country Club.
Madsen, who started his round on the 10th hole, will claim all the headlines after he aced the par-three eighth and then eagled the ninth for a spectacular finish to his round, but he was joined on seven-under later in the day by Englishman David Horsey.
While two international golfers are in the lead, South Africans performed strongly on a beautiful day at Pretoria Country Club, with Wallie Coetsee a shot behind in a tie for third with Australian Brett Rumford, while Dean Burmester, Keith Horne and Merrick Bremner all shot 65s and Chris Swanepoel, Oliver Bekker, Trevor Fisher Junior, Justin Walters, Ockie Strydom and Erik van Rooyen are all on four-under.
Horsey started his round on the first hole and, after five successive pars, he motored to three-under at the turn with birdies on the sixth, eighth and ninth holes. He showed that a tactical, safety-first approach is the way to go on this parklands course as he then added four more birdies on the back nine, including shots picked up on the testing 16th and 17th holes, and completed a bogey-free round.
“It’s always nice to play a round with no bogeys, around here one loose tee-shot can easily lead to bogey or worse. I hit a lot of two and three-irons off the tee, just trying to be in the right place.
“Unlike Copperleaf [where the Tshwane Open was previously held], the bombers don’t have an advantage here, it’s a positional course. It’s very tactical, you have to hit the right spots and be sensible about when you attack the flags. I was able to pick my shots and sometimes you hit a three-iron off the tee and take a two-iron into the green!” Horsey said.
Madsen showed that his iron-play is in great nick as he followed up rounds of 64 and 66 to end last weekend’s Africa Open with his 63.
“It was fantastic. I’ve found something in my game that’s working and I’ve been pretty consistent. I’ve put it in the fairway a lot more recently. I’m giving myself a lot more looks at birdie and that makes everything easier. It takes the stress off the putter a bit and it’s easier to relax,” Madsen said.
Holes-in-one normally come at the most unexpected times, but Madsen said he had an inkling that one was around the corner for him.
“For the last couple of weeks I’ve been hitting some shots that were really close and I said to my caddie that a hole-in-one was on the cards pretty soon. Luckily for me it came today. I hit a fantastic shot, I couldn’t hit it better, and it spun back into the hole. That was only my second hole-in-one and it’s really special to have one in competition on the European Tour.
“I had 123 metres with a 54-degree wedge. The wind was a little bit off the right. I hit a really solid shot and struck it so well that it flew past the pin and then spun right back in,” Madsen said.
The 26-year-old was not finished yet, though, as he then proceeded to eagle the 490-metre par-five ninth.
“When you stand on the next tee after a hole-in-one you’re pretty pumped and confident. I succeeded in gathering my thoughts and hit a really nice drive and then a great second shot. I played a three-iron to 12 feet and then sank it, which was a fantastic way to finish. It was the kind of thing you dream about, but don’t expect,” Madsen said.
Coetsee was not able to finish the deal in the Joburg Open, leading at the start of the final round but being overtaken by Andy Sullivan, and he finished in a tie for 45th at the Africa Open, but the 42-year-old was impressive on Thursday in collecting five birdies and an eagle, and dropping just one shot, on his way to a 64.
Coetsee said he is taking a lot of irons off the tees and, even when he does hit driver, he’s not giving it 100% effort.
Rumford joined the Jeffrey’s Bay resident on six-under with a round that featured no dropped shots and three birdies on each nine.
While Raphael Jacquelin’s finish was nothing like Madsen’s, the Frenchman nevertheless surged up the leaderboard into a tie for fifth on five-under as he birdied holes seven to nine, having also started his round on the 10th.
Local hero George Coetzee’s round was nothing if not eventful as he started with two birdies, bogeyed the fourth and then birdied seven and nine to go out in 32. But he then bogeyed the 10th and 14th holes, before completing a 67 with birdies at the 15th and 16th holes.