MALELANE, South Africa – Morten Orum Madsen leads the Alfred Dunhill Championship after shooting a 7-under 65 in the opening round at Leopard Creek.
The Dane, who earned his first European Tour title last weekend at the South African Open, opened with eight birdies and just a single dropped shot on Thursday for a one-stroke advantage over South Africa's Allan Versfeld and Portugal's Ricardo Santos.
Defending champion Charl Schwartzel was in a four-way tie for fourth after a 68, while American John Daly shot a 72 for a tie for 48th in his second tournament back from right elbow surgery in July.
Madsen came from behind to win the South African Open last weekend, but was out in front early at the second event on the 2014 Race to Dubai. A bogey at the par-3 seventh was his only blemish.
''I have a lot of confidence right now,'' he said. ''I really believe I am going to hit good shots on pretty much every shot.''
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Big sale in Versfeld carded an eagle and four birdies in a bogey-free round, while Santos finished with an eagle to add to four birdies.
Schwartzel had seven birdies, including five on his first six holes, but the 2011 Masters champion failed to fully capitalize on the fast start by making a bogey and a double bogey around the turn. Starting at No. 10, he dropped his first shot on No. 17 and then double bogeyed the par-4 first.
Schwartzel won here by 12 shots a year ago and has also finished second four times at the Leopard Creek course in northern South Africa.
Daly made his return to golf at the BMW Masters in China last month after surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his elbow. He struggled for consistency Thursday with two bogeys and a birdie going out and two birdies and a bogey coming home.