Finland’s Valimaki shoots 10-under to 2-shot lead in Mauritius

Less than three weeks after finishing second in his quest for a second DP World Tour title, Finland’s Sami Valimaki set a course record of 62 at Mont Choisy Le Golf to lead the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open by two shots after round one.

Välimäki birdied more than half the holes — 10 of the 18 — and had no bogeys to give himself a lead over playing partner Oliver Bekker who was eight under par. He was second at the season-opening Joburg Open last month.

Valimaki’s only win on the DP World Tour came at the Oman Open in 2020.

Frenchman Pierre Pineau was third at seven under with South Africa’s JC Ritchie a shot further back in fourth.

Spurred by some excellent putting Valimaki was out in 31 with a birdie at the second and a run of four in a row from the fifth. He had long putts on the undulating fifth and sixth greens and one from the fringe of the eighth.

The Finn hit a lovely pitch up to the 12th green to set up a short-range birdie and a fine up and down from a greenside bunker at the next to reach seven-under. With birdies on 14th and the 15th, he made it four in a row for the second time today. He was on in two at the par-five last and though his eagle putt slid just by, a tap-in birdie was enough for a record 10-under-par score.

“It was a really nice round,” he said. “I putted of course really good, made some longer ones – I haven’t made them the last couple of weeks, so it’s nice to get it rolling.

“Oli (Bekker) played a really good round as well, so we enjoyed the day. I feel like I found the rhythm and the speed for the greens and that was the key to the day.

Bekker was also bogey-free for his round, with three birdies on the outward half before a stellar back nine. Four birdies in five holes from the 12th helped him stay on the coattails of his partner and he matched Valimaki’s gain at the last to card a 64.

Pineau, coming off a top-ten finish at the ISPS Handa Australia Open two weeks ago, made birdies at the third, fifth and seventh to reach the turn in 33, before dropping his only shot of the day at the tenth. He responded with four straight birdies from the 12th and an eighth of his round at the last, after a perfectly judged chip, took him to seven under.

JC Ritchie, starting from the 10th, was on track for a 65 of his own until a bogey four at the eighth meant he had to settle for six under.

Niklas Lemke was five under after a stirring birdie-eagle finish with a long putt at the last. That was the second eagle of an eventful back nine also containing three birdies and a double bogey, in contrast to nine pars on the outward half.

Denmark’s Christopher Bring and France’s Ko Jeong Weon were alongside the Swede in fifth.

Last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship winner Ockie Strydom continued his good start to the season with a three-under-par 69.

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