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Ken Borland


Williams cashes in on Leopard Creek par-5s & ever-growing confidence

Posted on December 07, 2023 by Ken

Robin Williams tees off on the par-four ninth hole in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

Robin Williams was able to cash in on the par-fives and his own ever-growing confidence as he soared to the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the co-sanctioned Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Thursday.

Williams birdied three of the four par-fives on the scenic course on the border of the Kruger National Park, on his way to shooting a phenomenal seven-under-par 65, enough to give the England-based golfer a one-stroke lead.

Starting his round on the back nine also helped Williams because three of the par-fives are on that stretch, and he went to the turn on a very promising four-under. Back-to-back birdies on the par-five 15th and par-three 16th built on earlier gains on the par-four 11th and the famous par-five 13th hole overlooking the Crocodile River.

Williams birdied the first and par-five second holes as well, before his one and only dropped shot, on the par-four third hole with its strategically-placed bunkers and sloping green. But the 22-year-old finished in style with birdies on the sixth and eighth holes, continuing the impressive form he has shown in his first full season on the Sunshine Tour, after his maiden victory in October’s Fortress Invitational at Glendower.

“It was pretty fun out there today and I played well,” Williams smiled on an overcast and cool day in Malelane. “I didn’t really hit the ball in the rough although I was in a few furry spots. The greens were a lot firmer and quicker than I think everyone expected after all the rain, but I took advantage of the par-fives.

“Since that first win, I’ve gained masses of confidence over my last half-dozen tournaments on the Sunshine Tour. The courses are tougher and more penalising in these co-sanctioned events, but it’s been about adapting and learning. I probably put more pressure on myself than anything external, so I still need to handle that and my emotions, it’s not just your game you have to think about out there.

“But today is another massive confidence boost, I can now say I shot 65 around Leopard Creek, no-one can take that away from me and I can sleep happy tonight,” Williams said.

Williams grew up in Peterborough and came through the English amateur system, but he was born in South Africa and plays under that flag.

There were other outstanding South African performers in the top-10 of the leaderboard on Thursday, showing that we have some exceptional talent coming through.

Jayden Schaper, who acquitted himself so well in the final group of the South African Open last weekend at Blair Atholl, bounced back from that disappointment with a superb 66 to share second place with Spain’s Manuel Elvira.

Casey Jarvis was also quickly back on the horse after fading at Blair Atholl as he fired a 67, a score matched by two of the most exciting amateurs in the system, Christiaan Maas and Christo Lamprecht. They share fourth place on five-under with a more experienced South African in Jaco Prinsloo, New Zealander Samuel Jones and Scott Jamieson, the Scotsman who loves Leopard Creek and shared the lead going into last year’s final round, before finishing in a tie for 12th, having fired a course-record 63 on the second day.

“I know this course very well and where to leave it,” Schaper said after collecting seven birdies and making just one bogey. “So I kept it on the right side of the fairways and greens, I just kept it simple and tried to have the best angles coming in.

“I’m just sticking to my game-plan, my game has been good and I just want to keep it the same. It’s a clever course, you can’t go directly at the flags, you have to be careful of the run-offs and look at your angles,” the 22-year-old Schaper said.

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