A week after crashing out of the European Tour qualifying school Sweden’s Pelle Edberg hit back with an opening 65 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa today.
The seven under par display left the 30-year-old only a stroke behind early leader South African Ulrich Van den Berg at Leopard Creek.
Edberg no longer has a full Tour card, but earned a place in the opening event of the new season thanks to his 132nd place finish on this year’s circuit.
Joint runner-up at the SAS Masters on his home soil last year, he failed to make the 72-hole cut on his 10th trip to the school and so faces an uncertain future.
But birdies at five of the last seven holes made him the closest morning challenger to Van den Berg, a 34-year-old who has won five times in his home country, but has yet to make his mark on the European circuit.
His compatriot Titch Moore was in third place following a six under 66, while the group one further back included Irish pair Damien McGrane and Shane Lowry and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, winner of last month’s Hong Kong Open.
Lowry, who as an amateur won the Irish Open in May, reached six under before bogeying the short seventh – his 16th – while former winner Charl Schwartzel led the field at seven under, but dropped shots at the seventh and ninth.
James Kingston began with five straight birdies, but in the end had to settle for a 68, while title favourite Ernie Els was among the later starters and stood one under after four holes.