Mark Williams got his campaign off to a flying start during round one of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Thursday, where he shot 67 to take up second place amongst the morning field.
The Zimbabwean has been runner up twice on the Sunshine Tour this year, but in recent months has struggled with his form. On Tuesday he went 10-under-par for the pre-qualifier at Irene Country Club, which earned him a spot in this week’s €1,5-million tournament and restored his self-belief.
“It’s been a good year for me so far and I played nicely over the winter period. I had a couple of bad finishes coming into this, but shot 62 in the pre-qualifier and that renewed my confidence.
“I love this golf course, and my length does help, but you still have to hit it straight. It’s nice to get the first round underway with a good start,” he said.
He quickly took to Leopard Creek on Thursday morning, despite having had little free time in Limpopo Province, and went five-under-par to move within three shots of early leader Christiaan Basson.
“I had a bit of a dream start,” said Williams. “I parred the first three holes and then holed my second shot on the fourth. I followed it up with two birdies a hole later and that helped me get to four-under pretty quickly. “
“I had a couple of bumps in the road and dropped at eight and 10, but I came back nicely and had an awesome finish. I made three great putts to end off – a par save on 16 and then birdie putts on 17 and 18,” he added.
The 31-year-old was one of the first players out on Thursday morning and took advantage of the mint condition of the course. He was optimistic after posting a low number on day one, and looked forward to having the chance to earn big at one of the co-sanctioned events of summer.
“We had the greens in perfect conditions teeing off at 6.20 this morning, so it was great to get out there a little bit cooler than it is now. It was a little bit tough coming from the pre-qualifier, getting here yesterday, rushing around in the practice round, and then seeing 6.20, but now I’m very pleased with the result,” he said.