Besseling makes short work of Leopard Creek
Besseling leads by one shot after opening round of 65
Wil Besseling lines up his putt on the 18th hole during round one of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
The Dutchman carded an eagle, six birdies and a solitary bogey at Leopard Creek to finish seven under par, a shot ahead of England’s Garrick Porteous, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and South Africa’s Keith Horne.
“I played nicely,” said Besseling, who narrowly missed out on a full European Tour card for this season after finishing 18th on the Challenge Tour.
“It’s a great start for the season and a great round. I had it going nicely on the par fives. I was able to get there in two with irons and converted the birdies, and an eagle on 15 really helped.”
Larrazabal, who was one of a handful of players who turned down the option to wear shorts in competition for the first time in the high temperatures at Kruger National Park, had an eagle, five birdies and one bogey in his 66.
“First round of the season I don’t think I’m ready to go with shorts,” the four-time European Tour winner said. “It’s more for pro-ams or practice rounds to chill out with friends, but as a competitive round I didn’t feel like it and it worked.
“We’ve played in a lot worse than this, we played in Singapore and Malaysia. This is hot but it’s not that bad. We’re not going to die.
“As a Spaniard I grew up in the city, so to come to the bush is something special I discovered through the years on tour. I love the nature, I love the wildlife and this is paradise.
“We have one of the best golf courses you can play and Leopard Creek only has one very, very bad thing — it’s too far from Barcelona! I would have a place here if this was five or six hours from home.”
Forrest reached seven under after 11 holes but stumbled over the closing stretch and ran up a triple-bogey seven on the eighth, while last year’s runner-up Drysdale had five birdies and one bogey in his 68.
Former US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel carded a two-under-par 70 in his first round since April due to a wrist injury.