Rozner shows his love for Mauritius, shoots a sensational 62 at the brand new La Reserve Links -
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Rozner shows his love for Mauritius, shoots a sensational 62 at the brand new La Reserve Links

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V Krishnaswamy

Bel Ombre, Mauritius: Antoine Rozner’s love for Mauritius was there for all to see as he gave the 2023 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open an electric start. The defending champion from France, gave the fresh-as-mint La Reserve Links Course a round to savour with a 10-under 62, that becomes a worthy course record.

Despite talk of an imminent challenge, the world-class field took an immediately liking to the course co-designed by Major winner, Louis Oosthuizen and Peter Matkovich,

Trailing Rozner was England’s Paul Warring, who shot a bogey free 9-under 63. South Africa’s Jayden Schaper carded 65 each to be third, while four other, Dan Erickson of the US, Laurie Canter of England, and South Africans Darren Fichardt and Lyle Rowe were tied for fourth at 6-under 66 and six others shot 67 each.

The course has five Par-5 and Rozner made ample use of them. He was 6-under for the Par-5s, as he birdied 12th, 15th, fifth and eighth and holed out from the bunker for an eagle on 18th.

Rozner was ecstatic as he said, “I could not dream of a better start. Obviously, I started really hot. Shooting 7-u on back was unbelievable. I didn’t miss a single shot, holed everything I had. Holed even a bunker shot on 18.”

He added, “Literally everything, literally everything went my way. I just kept going and I birdied 1-2-3. After birdieing No 5, I thought of shooting 59, but unfortunately for me the bad tee shot on 6 cost me the magic number. But pretty happy with my round.

Shaking his head, he went on, “Amazing score. Ten-under is my lowest score ever.”

Asked what he thought about the of the new La Reserve Links course being challenging and demanding, Rozner laughed and said, “Today nothing seemed demanding. But it is a tough course, the tee shots are hard, you have to put them in play even though they marked those side bushes as water hazards. That makes it a little easier for us.

“But it’s demanding. The wind is blowing as well. We have to manage ball heights quite well. I did that pretty solid all day long. And I putted well.

“It’s a good course, it is going to be a nice tournament, nice week. Lot of golf still to be played. Pleased with my start.”

On hjs plans for rest of the day, “What else can you do, apart from go for a swim. Look at all this around, stunning view, the weather is perfect. I am going to go for a swim for sure.”

Starting from the 10th at La Reserve Links, Rozner had 10 birdies and an eagle against two late bogeys. Rozner was off on a tear as he birdied the 10th and then had back-to-back gains on 12th and 13th and another pair of birdies followed on 14th and 15th. He topped that with a hole out from the bunker on the 18th for an eagle and he turned in a sensational 7-under 29.

The amazing run continued with bridies on the first, second and third and yet another birdie on the fifth raised visions of the magic number of 59.

And, then Rozner hit a bad tee shot and the bogey resulting from it may have stopped him from going under 60. In between the bogeys on sixth and the ninth, he had another birdie on eighth.

In three previous appearances at the event, Rozner has never been worse than Tied-seventh and never shot an over par round. For 12 rounds before this week, he has been 52-under and Thursday’s 10-under takes it 62-under for 13 rounds.

Rozner’s 62 also means that both the courses at Heritage Resorts – the Heritage and the La Reserve Links – have course records of 62. In 2017, India’s Arjun Atwal shot 62 but lost a play-off to Dylan Fritelli, who is also in the field this week. All three editions of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage ended in play-offs.

Rozner, who was T-7 in his maiden appearance in 2018 at Four Seasons GC, Anahita, improved to Tied-second after losing a 3-way play-off to Rasmus Hojgaard in late 2019, when the event was held at the neighbouring Heritage Course, which is part of the same group.

Covid robbed the players a chance to get back to the beautiful island of Mauritius in 2020 and 2021 but when the event returned in 2022 at Mont Choisy, Rozner was crowned as the champion with 19-under total.

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