Deano on fire in South Africa

Scotland's Dean Robertson lights up Johannesburg with a new course record to lead the Alfred Dunhill...

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Martin Park
Fri, 19 Jan 2001
Deano on fire in South Africa

Scotland’s Dean Robertson rattled off ten birdies in the opening round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to lead by three shots over England’s Paul Eales.

The 30-year-old Scot played flawless golf to break David Frost’s course record by one with two halves of 31, a ten under par 62.

And with 22 putts for the round, Robertson knew what club was doing the damage to the scorecard.

“I'm absolutely delighted," he said. "The first day of the New Year you don't really set yourself any expectations as you have no form, and in the pro-am my game wasn't in that good shape as it was my first full round since November.

"But I was in the mental attitude of taking what you get and I holed absolutely everything. It was certainly the finest putting display I've ever had on a golf course - I had 22 putts and it could have been 18.

"I never normally play well in the southern hemisphere at the start of the year and I came here with the intention of making the cut in the first four events and coming good around the time of Dubai.

"Last year I couldn't come here because of a virus I picked up the previous November in Malaysia at the World Cup and it's good to be back. "The rough is a bit more forgiving this year. Before if you found the rough you had to chip out but a couple of times today I was in the rough and made birdie."

Eales recovered from a bogey on his first hole to post his 65 and the highlight of his day was an eagle three at the par five 16th. But it was not as plain sailing as his short game kept him intact, especially at the 13th hole.

"The 13th was obviously the turning point because you're thinking you could throw away a good score and suddenly you hole a good putt, chip in on the next and feel a lot better about yourself," said Eales.

"That is the key for me this year, trying to relax and enjoy it rather than beating up on myself and taking things with a pinch of salt.

"It's easy to do when things are going well but when you realise you are on a sticky wicket you get a bit anxious. Last season was the first time I've been in the position of hanging on for a card and it's not a nice place to be."

Hampshire’s Justin Rose found his form as he led for most of the day on 6-under par until Robertson returned his 62.

Rose, who struggled to regain his card this year was in the form that saw him finish fourth at The Open in 1998 and hopes to have his best season yet on the European Tour.

"I'm very pleased with that although there are still some things to work on," said Rose who had to go back to the Tour School last November for the third year in a row. "I'm driving it really well but hit some poor iron shots over the last few holes.

"I wasted a good chance for a birdie on the par five 18th because I had only a four iron second shot but pulled it left and it hit the grandstand and went over the green onto the ninth fairway."

Other players on 66 included England’s Steve Webster and Greg Owen, Ashley Roestoff of the host nation, Sweden’s Mathias Grönberg and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher.

Nick Faldo made use of his South Africa foray with a four under par 68 in round one.

"I'm pleased with that because I wasn't 100% sure what to expect and it was nice to come out and birdie the first hole," he said.

"That sets you in the right mood and you can't birdie them all if you don't birdie the first as my old caddie used to say! In the first tournament of the year you're never sure how you're going to play and it was a bit like fixing the aeroplane while you are flying out on the course."