Sebastian Heisele fired five birdies on his back nine to head up the European challenge after day one of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, as leader Arjun Atwal recorded a blistering nine under par round of 62 to set a course record at Heritage Golf Club.
Germany’s Heisele, who regained his European Tour card at Qualifying School earlier in the month, signed for a five under par 66 alongside Brazil’s Adilson da Silva, South African pair Louis de Jager and Ockie Strydom and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines.
Hiesele and de Jager had set the clubhouse target at the end of the morning session, but dropped back into a tie for second place as Atwal, who will captain Team Asia in the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in March, surged through the leader board with a bogey-free round that included an eagle and seven birdies.
Major winner Louis Oostuizen joined fellow South Africans George Coetzee, who won this event in 2015, and the newly crowned Graduate of the Year Dylan Frittelli, alongside French pair Romain Langasque and Joël Stalter in a group of 13 players at four under par.
The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open is in it’s third year and was the first ever event to be tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour.
Arjun Atwal: “I was in Kuala Lumpur the last two days to announce the players in Team Asia for the EurAsia Cup and I had some media activities to do. I had no practice round and straight on the first tee.
“I’m pleased and shocked. I took a very long route coming here. I came through Dubai and it took me 16 hours to get here. I was tired and I didn’t really expect anything. Sometimes when you don’t expect much, you get a lot out of it.
“It is very important to play a practice round if you haven’t played the course before. It is kind of important but not the end of the world especially for a guy who has played enough golf in his life.”
Sebastian Heisele: “I’m very pleased with my round. My front nine was a bit of a nightmare to be honest. I didn’t really feel too comfortable but slowly found something that worked for me. I got going on the back nine and pleased to pick up five shots on the back.
“I was pulling my shots left, as in far left, and that made it hard. I feel that the back nine is easier than the front. When you are not feeling it and when you are looking down the fairway and see the bushes along the fairway, you just don’t feel comfortable.
“I’ve been hitting the ball well all of this week. I had a few days off after a long stretch in the last season so I came out here without much expectation. My score surprised me and it also surprised me that I was hitting so badly earlier today, but I’m happy I got it back.”
Louis Oosthuizen: I took advantage of the wind not being that strong on the first nine holes. Then it’s gets tricky. The wind really picked up and there are some good holes out there. A lot of risk and reward. I was taking driver everywhere today, so a few errant tee shots, but I think there is definitely good scoring out there. You’ve got to be careful, there are hurdles along the way the whole time.
“I like the windy conditions, I like the type of play on the golf course, so I just need to play another few good rounds before Sunday. I love it here. Last time I was here was on my honeymoon, no golf clubs then, but we’re having a great time”
Romain Langasque: “I hit it really solid. I found a lot of fairways and greens so it was a really good round. I only made a bogey on the 16th hole and if a few more putts went in, I would be six or seven-under. It is really positive for me for the rest of the week.
“My driving was good. If you can find the fairway, you can go for the flag. I was very confident off the tees and hit a lot of fairways. I put my ball in a lot of birdie positions. I just need to focus more on the putting for the rest of the week.”