Home hope Bekker out in front at Alfred Dunhill Championship

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Oliver Bekker leads the way after 18 holes at the Alfred Dunhill Championship after carding an opening-round 66 on Thursday.

Home hope Bekker out in front at Alfred Dunhill Championship

Oliver Bekker leads the way after 18 holes at the Alfred Dunhill Championship after carding an opening-round 66 on Thursday.

Home favourite Oliver Bekker made a strong start to the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa as he claimed the first-round lead.

Bekker took pole position through the opening 18 holes after battling initial strong winds to reach a six-under 66 at the Leopard Creek Country Club on Thursday.

The South African carded just one bogey, while a string of four consecutive birdies on the back nine allowed him to build a lead that still stood at the end of the day's play.

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Bekker holds a one-stroke advantage over Dimitrios Papadatos, with Raphael Jacquelin another shot back, just ahead of nine players on three under, including reigning champion Brandon Stone. 

Pace-setter Bekker has never won on the European Tour, but he has found some form in recent weeks, finishing joint-seventh at the Mauritius Open last time out.

And after another fine day, Bekker reflected on how the Malelane course might work to his advantage.

"It's definitely a great afternoon on the golf course," he said. "The wind died a little bit on us, so I'm glad to have been able to take advantage of that.

"I hit it really good. The greens are really firm but I drove it well, so I was in fairway most of the time and could control my ball. I made one or two but, all in all, I just played solid golf.

"I think the changes on this golf course are good for my game. I, traditionally, have not played that great over here but I felt like it suited my game a little bit better. I'm looking forward to what this week's got in store."

The highest ranked player in the field, South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, signed for a modest 71.

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