Kevin Phelan makes a bright start to his European Tour career
Waterford golfer two shots off leader Madsen at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa
Kevin Phelan carded a two-under-par 70 in his first round as a professional on The European Tour at the Alfred Dunhill Championships in South Africa. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Waterford’s Kevin Phelan made a fine start to his career as a professional on the European Tour with an opening round of two-under-par 70 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
The 23-year-old came through qualifying school earlier this month and kept up his fine form to lie five shots off the lead of Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen, who is on course for back-to-back wins after winning the South Africa Open last week.
Former Walker Cup player Phelan made birdies on the second and fifth holes of his first round, but had back-to-back bogeys on the sixth and seventh.
Another bogey on the 11th put him one over for his round, but Phelan stormed home with birdies on the 13th, 16th and final hole to lie in share of 15th position in the clubhouse.
Fellow Irishman Gareth Maybin is one shot ahead on three under after he carded a 69 that included five birdies and a double-bogey at the 11th.
Four days after winning his maiden European Tour title in the South African Open, Madsen carded a seven-under-par 65 at Leopard Creek to finish one ahead of local favourite Allan Versfeld and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos.
Madsen carded eight birdies and one bogey as he continued his remarkable start to only his second full season on Tour, having finished 81st in last season’s Race to Dubai.
Versfeld returned a flawless 66 thanks to an eagle and four birdies, while Santos did likewise and finished in style with his eagle coming on the par-five 18th.
Defending champion Charl Schwartzel was two shots further back on four under alongside England’s Richard Finch, Scotland’s David Drysdale and France’s Victor Riu.
Schwartzel was five under for his first six holes and annoyed at not capitalising on such a blistering start, declined to speak to reporters afterwards. The former Masters champion triumphed by 12 shots last year, just a week after winning the Thailand Open by 11 strokes.
“Today it seemed easy but it definitely wasn’t, it was pretty tough out there and the course was playing long with the wind,” said leader Madsen after his round.
“I played really solidly, I gave myself a lot of looks at birdie and a lot of shorter ones which was nice.
“I wasn’t expecting to shoot 65 today, I knew I was playing well but I won last week so everything that happens this week or next week is going to be icing on the cake. I am just trying to enjoy the ride.”
Ireland’s Damien McGrane suffered a costly finish to his round, a triple-bogey seven on the ninth, his final hole, meaning he had to settle for a level-par 72.