Gregory on course for grandeur
One of the stories of the week at the Alfred Dunhill Championship has been the performance of Gregory Bourdy, who looks likely to have snared a share of the halfway lead with Charl Schwartzel after his rounds of 66 and 65 over the first two days.
A solitary bogey at the third hole on Friday is the only blemish he’s recorded thus far, and an eagle at the par-four sixth hole will have no doubt eased the minor irritation of the dropped shot. More intriguingly, the man from Bordeaux has looked right at home around the Leopard Creek course thus far, and has every reason to like his chances this weekend.
“I’m not expecting, but you never know. I’m feeling great and I played two good rounds. I had many birdie opportunities again today, especially on the first holes. My game was again solid, and I made just one bogey today, so it was a great round again.
“I chipped in for eagle on six. It’s drivable there, but I missed the green on the right side. I was in the rough and had a lob shot and it was the perfect shot. It’s the kind of shot you can’t do all the time, but this one was the right one,” Bourdy said.
Of course, the name Gregory Bourdy isn’t a foreign one to South African golf fans. After turning pro in 2003, the Frenchman eventually earned his European Tour card for the 2005 season. However, he narrowly missed out on retaining it, and he turned to the Sunshine Tour in 2006 keep the momentum in his career going.
It turned out to be one of his best decisions to date, as he claimed a memorable win at the 2006 Telkom PGA Championship. The victory wasn’t the only event in which Bourdy impressed though, as consistent play throughout the season had him on course to win the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. Ironically, the man who pipped him at the post was his current co-leader, Schwartzel.
“I love South Africa. I have played a lot of tournaments here and I won one - the Telkom PGA in Joburg a few years ago. It was an important part of my career, because I lost my European Tour card and I came to the Sunshine Tour to play more events,” Bourdy said. “I finished second in the Order of Merit that season. I was leading before the last event, and I think Schwartzel won the last event and took the top prize.”
After an impressive year in 2006, Bourdy regained his card for the European Tour after finishing 102nd on their Order of Merit despite only being eligible for certain events. He has since retained his card with ease each year, but the 30-year-old hasn’t forgotten the significance of the Sunshine Tour as a stepping stone in his career.
“I enjoyed the tournaments, the organisation and the courses. If we don’t play the biggest tournament on the Sunshine Tour it’s still in good shape. I often say to the guys in France that they should try to play the Sunshine Tour, because we see so many players from South Africa playing so well,” Bourdy said.
In his fifth appearance at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, Bourdy now looks set to lock horns with Schwartzel, as it looks likely that the duo will enjoy a four-stroke lead at the halfway-mark of the tournament. Even though a tantalising fourth European Tour victory is very much on the cards, Bourdy refused to get ahead of himself and was simply up for enjoying the occasion.
“It’s going to be an exciting weekend. Charl is a great player, one of the best in the world. In South Africa it’s always nice to play with some of the top players in the world on Saturday and Sunday. I like these guys, so it should be a great time,” he said.
Golf is always more exciting when you are playing well, and it remains to be seen whether the slight Frenchman’s good form will continue over the coming days. But with Schwartzel suffering from fatigue and a field struggling to keep up with the pair’s blistering pace, Bourdy could well be on his way to a second victory in the Republic.