Michael on top of first 2011 European Tour event


2009 European TourMALELANE, South Africa – Anthony Michael of South Africa shot a 6-under 66 Thursday to lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, the opening European Tour tournament of the 2011 season.

Michael made seven birdies and a bogey at Leopard Creek Country Club for a one-shot advantage in the first event of the 2011 Race to Dubai.

England’s Robert Rock, Germany’s Sebastian Buhl, Norway’s Marius Thorp and another local player, Dawie van der Walt, all shot 67s.

Defending champion Pablo Martin of Spain opened with a 69 for a share of 11th place, while British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 24, shot 76 after making two double bogeys and two bogeys in his first nine holes.

In his debut season on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour, which co-sanctions the event, the 25-year-old Michael opened with a blistering 4-under 31 through his first nine after birdies at Nos. 1, 4, 8 and 9.

The 890th-ranked Michael made three more birdies and a bogey at the $1.33 million event in north east South Africa.

“I think I hit only three fairways the whole day, but from the rough to the greens was good, and on the greens it was amazing,” said Michael, who sank a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and then a 25-footer for birdie on No. 9.

Behind him, Rock was flawless with five birdies and no bogeys, while Thorp finished with four successive birdies.

Spanish pair Alvaro Velasco and Rafael Cabrera-Bello, South African players Keith Horne and Andrew Georgiou and Klas Eriksson of Sweden are equal sixth after shooting 68s.

Martin shrugged off his jet-lag to hole an eagle two on the 319-yard No. 6 after his drive pitched on the green and curved just past the cup to finish a foot away. He dropped shots on Nos. 9 and 14 before birdies on 15 and at the last.

“Not bad for (after) a 14-hour flight from New York,” Martin said. “I’m happy. How can I not be after that flight and that score?”

Oosthuizen took a seven at the par-5 No. 2 and then a five at the short No. 7 hole, ending a disastrous opening nine with double bogey, bogey, bogey.

He picked up two birdies and two more bogeys to be tied for 110th, 10 shots behind Michael.

The 39th-ranked Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, the only golfer other than Oosthuizen in the world’s top 100 playing, shot a 70.