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Is Morten Orum Madsen among the next young stars in the making?
It may be a bit premature and hyperbolic to make that assertion—a fellow Dane in Thorbjorn Olesen has gained further notice to date—but Madsen's start to the 2014 Race to Dubai has been nothing short of sensational.
Madsen fired a seven-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over South African Allan Versfeld and Ricardo Santos on Thursday, keeping the momentum of his previous triumph going at Leopard Creek.
While hitting 15-of-18 greens in regulation helped his cause, it was how well Madsen used the flat iron that got the job done on this day. He needed only 26 putts for the round, and if he keeps putting like that and putting on this type of ball-striking display, Madsen could win far more tournaments in the future.
A win in Malelane would vault Madsen even further up in the world rankings, where he stands at No. 121 at the moment, far above the 243rd slot he had before last week's breakthrough.
Versfeld did not drop a single shot and began at No. 10, eagled the par-five 13th and made three consecutive birdies right after the turn at Nos. 1 through 3, adding another at the par-four sixth for a 66.
After holding the 54-hole lead last week and costing himself a victory with a couple of big numbers in the final round, Charl Schwartzel came out of the gates firing at flagsticks and pouring in putts.
Schwartzel began on the 10th hole and birdied five of his first six to quickly ascend to minus-five. Even a bogey at the par-four 17th still allowed him to go out in four-under 33.
However, a double bogey at No. 1 just after the turn dropped him back. Though he did recover with a birdie at the par-five second and made another coming in to polish off a round of 68, he will still be disappointed at the critical error that cost him a shot at getting closer to Madsen.
Another South African maintaining his strong play from the previous event is Hennie Otto.
The 37-year-old veteran recorded a joint runner-up finish this past Sunday, and finds himself in a cluster of golfers at three under. Otto capped his round in style with an eagle at the par-five 18th.