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Robin Williams hits the target at Alfred Dunhill Championship

The South Africans left their mark after the first day of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, unhindered by the rain.

The South African, Robin Williams, made a dream debut in the Alfred Dunhill Championship as he opened with a seven under par 65 to lead the first round of this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament by a single stroke at Leopard Creek on Thursday December 7.

Williams, who claimed his first Sunshine Tour victory in October’s Fortress Invitational, showed himself to be more than ready to take the step up to competing against a DP World Tour field on South Africa’s number-one-ranked golf course.

“I can always say I shot 65 at Leopard Creek. I’ll always have that,” said Williams, who leads the duo of South African, Jayden Schaper, and Spaniard, Manuel Elvira, who both carded rounds of 66. The two GolfRSA amateurs, Christo Lamprecht and Christiaan Maas, started extremely well with their rounds of five under par.

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On a day that started in the rain and remained cool throughout, Williams did his scoring in the morning and set a clubhouse target that nobody else could catch.

“The greens were a lot firmer. We all thought they would be after the rain the night before. It was a bit of a surprise, but you just adapt to it. It was pretty fun out there. I took advantage of the par fives and the short holes and I putted well,” he said.

Williams has certainly been building to this kind of performance following his breakthrough victory on the Sunshine Tour.

“The last six or seven tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, with that win in there gave me a lot of confidence coming into this tournament, to know that I’ve got the game to win out here and compete. It’s now just a case of adapting and learning to play courses set up a bit tougher. This is all a learning curve for me in terms of trying to see what my game needs in order to compete at this level. It’s about learning to handle my emotions and not just my game in these big events.”

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It’s also vindicated his decision to come and learn his trade on the Sunshine Tour after being raised in the United Kingdom. Born in Stellenbosch to South African parents from Springbok and Pniel, Williams’ father found work in the UK as a dentist and the family moved there when he was eight. He played for the England boys and men’s teams, competed in the Junior Ryder Cup on the same team as the twins, Nicolai and Rasmus Højgaard, and then turned professional in 2021. After a brief stint on the Euro Pro Tour he decided that the Sunshine Tour offered the kind of competitive opportunities his career needed.

But he has plenty of experience lining up behind him, with former champions Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Charl Schwartzel, as well as Erik van Rooyen  all on four under par.

“The golf course is in the best condition I’ve ever seen it in. It was a good round for me. The golf course has changed a lot from the one I did so well on. It’s definitely tougher so I was happy to shoot 68,” said Schwartzel, a four-time winner of this championship.

Results after day 1:
65 – Robin Williams
66 – Jayden Schaper, Manuel Elvira
67 – Jaco Prinsloo, Samuel Jones, Casey Jarvis, Scott Jamieson, Christiaan Maas, Christo Lamprecht
68 – Charl Schwartzel, Erik van Rooyen, Joakim Lagergren, Jason Roets, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Ashun Wu, Luca Filippi, Paul Waring, Andy Sullivan, Ugo Coussaud, Jaco Van Zyl, Adrien Saddier
69 – Espen Kofstad, Dean Burmester, Renato Paratore, Jacques Blaauw, Marco Penge, Jesper Svensson, Stefan Wears-Taylor, James Morrison, Darren Fichardt, Andrew Johnston, Aaron Cockerill, Malcolm Mitchell, Ross Mcgowan
70 – Matteo Manassero, Matthias Schwab, Angel Hidalgo, Kristian Krogh Johannessen, Louis Oosthuizen, Sebastian Garcia, Darius van Driel, Matthis Besard, Francesco Laporta, Wynand Dingle, Dylan Naidoo, Edoardo Molinari, Hennie du Plessis, Kyle Barker, Joshua Berry, Louis de Jager, Johannes Veerman, Pieter Moolman, Andrea Pavan
71 – Nikhil Rama, Jack Davidson, Dale Whitnell, Lorenzo Scalise, Shaun Norris, Anthony Michael, Keagan Thomas, Antoine Rozner, Jamie Donaldson, Filippo Celli, Sam Bairstow, Ockie Strydom, Alexander Levy, Thomas Aiken, Soren Kjeldsen
72 – Wilco Nienaber, Dylan Frittelli, Alejandro Del Rey, Daniel van Tonder, Anton Karlsson, Santiago Tarrio, Louis Albertse, Mateusz Gradecki, David Law, Neil Schietekat, Jean Hugo, Matti Schmid, Yurav Premlall, Will Enefer, Chase Hanna, Jacques P de Villiers
73 – Oliver Bekker, Thriston Lawrence, Zander Lombard, Benjamin Rusch, Alexander Knappe, Martin Vorster, Adam Blomme, Ruan Conradie, Doug McGuigan, Sebastian Friedrichsen, Conner Mackenzie, JC Ritchie, Martin Rohwer, Jeong Weon Ko, Tom Vaillant, Keenan Davidse, Clement Sordet, Deon Germishuys, Ivan Cantero
74 – Dan Bradbury, Hennie O’Kennedy, Jeff Winther, Jovan Rebula, Freddy Schott, Ryan Van Velzen, Matthew Baldwin, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Joel Girrbach, Robson Chinhoi
75 – Ross Fisher, Guido Migliozzi, Dylan Mostert, Heinrich Bruiners, Daniel Bennett, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Lyle Rowe, Max Rottluff, Gavin Green, Quintin Wilsnach
76 – Hunter Epson, Matthew Southgate, Tristen Strydom, Wade Jacobs, Slenda Sithebe, Branden Grace, Joachim B. Hansen, Peter Karmis, Combrinck Smit
77 – Brandon Stone, MJ Viljoen, Rourke van der Spuy, Jonathan Broomhead
78 – Albert Venter, Rupert Kaminski, David Ravetto, Ewen Ferguson, Merrick Bremner, Ruan Korb, Omar Sandys
79 – Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Nick Bachem, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Stuart Manley, Hennie Otto, John Axelsen, Toto Thimba Jnr
80 – JJ Senekal
81 – Thabang Simon, Jacquin Hess
83 – Gerhard Pepler, Alphius Kelapile
85 – Makhetha Mazibuko

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