EUROPEAN TOUR

Co-leader Meronk makes European Tour history

 

Adrian Meronk. Photo by golffile

Adrian Meronk became the first ever Polish player to lead a European Tour event at the end of a round as he produced a superb 65 on day one of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to join fellow European Challenge Tour graduate Robin Roussel at the summit.

Meronk fired two eagles, four birdies and a single bogey on Thursday morning to reach seven under par and grab a share of the first round lead at the second event of the South African Swing at Leopard Creek Country Club.

Roussel - another early starter - reeled off five consecutive birdies at the beginning of the back nine on his way to posting his lowest European Tour round of 65.

leaderboard

Scotland's Scott Jamieson was a single shot behind the co-leaders in third place after carding four birdies in his last five holes in the afternoon to sign for a 66.

Englishman Richard Bland, who started at the tenth tee, was another shot further back on five under after following up a front nine that contained six birdies with another birdie and two bogeys on the homeward nine.

Meronk opened his round with a birdie at the tenth hole but gave the shot back at the 12th.

He recovered with another birdie on the 13th before finishing his front nine with an eagle at the long 18th.

After making back to back birdies at the second and third, Meronk produced an important par save from eight feet on the fourth to remain at five under.

The 27-year-old then notched his second eagle of the day on the par four sixth before making a sensational up-and-down from the bunker behind the ninth green for par to head into the clubhouse in a tie for the lead.

He said: "I played really solid today.

"I actually had chances to go even lower but I'm very happy with how I played today.

"I made some good decisions with my caddie and I'm very pleased."

Frenchman Roussel got off to a mixed start early in the morning, carding three birdies and two bogeys over the first nine holes.

But he caught fire after the turn, notching birdies at the tenth, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th to jump to six under.

His delightful approach into the long 18th landed around three feet from the cup and he rolled in his birdie putt to complete a wonderful opening 65.
 
Roussel was grateful to his caddie Army Nathi Mdluli - a local who knows all about Leopard Creek's greens - for the role he played in his remarkable birdie run.

He said: "I had a bunch of good birdies and good putts especially. I'm lucky to have Army on the bag, who is a local so he gets to read the greens pretty well.

"And he helped a lot. I had quality putts on the tenth, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th. I think without him I wouldn't have been able to put all these in.

"But yeah, good drives, good iron shots and good putts so I'm quite happy."

After making three birdies on the front nine, Jamieson dropped his first shot of the day on the 12th.

But he bounced back with two consecutive gains at the 14th and 15th before repeating the trick on the 17th and 18th to get to six under.

"I'm delighted," said Jamieson. "It was pretty tough out there this afternoon. We had some gusting winds and firm conditions.

"So a strong finish for a 66 is perfect as far as I'm concerned."


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