From DP World Tour
Jayden Schaper continued his fine form to start the DP World Tour season with an opening seven-under-par 65 in the first round of the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Thursday.
That put him three strokes off the lead as he looks for a maiden victory that would see him crowned Opening Swing champion on the DP World Tour’s newly rejigged schedule which ends on the Indian Ocean island.
The first six events of the 2024 campaign have their own Rankings, with the winner of the Swing being crowned at the conclusion of this week’s AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
South African Schaper has secured three top 10s so far on home soil but will need a victory at Heritage La Réserve Golf Club to top the Opening Swing Rankings and win US$200,000 and secure a place in the second stage of the season – the Back 9.
An opening 65 provided a promising start in the Indian Ocean and Schaper is eager for one more strong week before the festive break.
“It’s been a good run of events,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a bit of a break after this but one more strong week and I can have a nice couple of days off and get back into the start of the season.
“It’s been a good run with some good positive results.”
Starting on the 10th, Schaper turned in one under but caught fire on the front nine, registering four birdies and an eagle to fly up the leaderboard.
The 22-year-old finished in the top 10 at this event last season when it was staged at Mont Choisy Le Golf – which like this week’s venue was designed by Peter Matkovich – and he admits he enjoys the layouts of the renowned architect.
“It was a solid day’s work,” he said. “I got off to a bit of a slow start but on the front side, my back side, I just made a few putts, gave myself a few chances and finished strong.
“It certainly suits my eye. I played with Peter Matkovich yesterday and my home course is designed by him, last year’s course Mont Choisy was also his. Those courses really suit my game and suit my eye.
“This golf course is quite tight off the tee box, I prefer a golf course like that, not one where you can just bomb it and find it and go again. It’s more about placement around here and hitting the shots into the right end of the greens and setting yourself up.”
Defending champion Antoine Rozner of France continued his love affair with Mauritius as he began the defence of his title by breaking a host of personal records. The Frenchman signed for a brilliant 62 to match his lowest round on the DP World Tour and carded his lowest nine as he covered the 10th to the 18th in 29 shots. That moved him to 10-under – his lowest 18-hole score to par – and handed him a one-shot lead over England’s Paul Waring.
“I couldn’t dream of a better start, obviously I started really hot by shooting seven under on the back nine,” he said. “It was unbelievable, I didn’t miss a single shot, holed everything I had and holed the bunker shot on 18 – literally everything went my way. I just think I have good vibes here. Maybe the ocean helps me disconnect a little bit in the evening, I can go for a swim and relax a little bit more than usual. The atmosphere is amazing, the people here are very friendly, it’s French-speaking. I feel just like at home and I’m enjoying myself a lot here.”
Darren Fichardt and Lyle Rowe were the next-best of the South Africans on six-under-par in a share of fourth.