Michael edges in front as Oosthuizen suffers

Little-known South African Anthony Michael was the clubhouse leader after day one of the Alfred Dunhill Championship after a round of six-under-par 66 put him one stroke clear at Malelane in South Africa.

The 25-year-old was part of the morning field at the Leopard Creek Country Club, but his score was unmatched by the higher-profile afternoon starters, including compatriots Louis Oosthuizen, the Open champion, Charl Schwartzel and 2008 winner Richard Sterne.

Instead it was Englishman Robert Rock, a player who has finished fourth and second in this co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event over the last two seasons, in joint-second place, after a bogey-free, five-under-par 67.

Three other players shared the same score – German Sebastian Buhl, Marius Thorp of Norway and another South African Dawie van der Walt.

Spanish pair Alvaro Velasco and Rafael Cabrera Bello, along with Klas Eriksson from Sweden, Keith Horne and Andrew Georgiou, were all tied for sixth on four under after 68s, with defending champion Pablo Martin among six players on three under. But there was no room in the leading pack for any of the big-name home favourites in what is the first tournament of the 2011 season.

Schwartzel, a five-time winner on the European Tour, was best among them after his round of 70 left him on two under par.

Sterne (73) was one over par after his 18 holes, with Oosthuizen, who is still searching for his best form after returning from an ankle injury, suffering a nightmare four-over 76.

The story of the day, though, was that of Michael, a rookie on the tour having turned professional a year ago and who admits that his first love is baseball.

The Johannesburg golfer represented South Africa at junior level in baseball and even went to the motherland of the sport, the United States, to try to pursue his dream.

He attended the Oklahoma City University but then realised that golf was the way he wanted to go.

"I played baseball for South Africa on a trip to Japan when I was 10," Michael said after his seven birdies and one bogey.

"I was going to go to the United States to play baseball, but the sport kind of died in South Africa, so I decided golf was the way to go."

Looking back on his round, Michael, who is still chasing the 'Best Rookie' prize on the 2010 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, added: "I struggled a bit off the tees, I hit only three fairways, but from the rough to the greens was good and on the greens was amazing.

"I came in with a lot of confidence and I had a good feel out there.

"I find that I play pretty well under pressure. I'm not sure why, but I've always enjoyed the pressure."

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