Burmester begins the DP World Tour era at the Joburg Open; Frittelli starts strong on home return

Home favourite Dean Burmester was given the honour of hitting the first shot on the newly named circuit at Randpark Country Club.

From arena announcements to small stage beginnings.

Two weeks ago, just prior to the penultimate tournament of the 2021 season, the European Tour announced, against a blingy Dubai backdrop, that it would be transformed within a fortnight.

A new name (the DP World Tour), a more international schedule, and a whopping total prize fund of over $200million would turn the circuit into a global power.

And this morning, shortly after dawn, only days after Collin Morikawa was crowned 2021 Race to Dubai winner, Dean Burmester began not only his first round in the Joburg Open at Randpark Country Club, but also the new venture's inaugural season.

"A great partnership and what a great name, DP World Tour," he said after compiling a level-par 71. "It's a world tour and what an honour to be able to hit that first tee shot.

"I think everybody here is going to be over the moon with the start of it and what better place than back home in South Africa for me."

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On a day of gusting wind it was the unlikely duo of local man Thiston Lawrence and Spaniard Angel Hidalgo who led the field after carding 6-under-par 65s.

The round was left incomplete when darkness fell, with Lawrence having one hole of his first round to play in the morning.

The pace-setters lead Englishman Ashley Chesters by one, with seven players tied for fourth on 4-under, among them Dylan Frittelli.

The 26-year-old hails from Johannesburg, but is now settled in Austin, Texas where he plays on the PGA Tour and he was a winner of the 2019 John Deere Classic.

A two-time victor on the DP World Tour before he crossed the Atlantic, Frittelli's class and position on the shoulder of the unheralded leaders has him assume favouritism heading into Friday.

He's yet to win on home soil, but in recent times has been exceptionally consistent, missing just three cuts in his last 20 starts with 14 top 25 finishes and, when last in the country, he was third at the South African Open.

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Hidalgo finished 22nd on the Challenge Tour last season, two spots shy of earning himself a full DP World Tour card for this season.

It is just his fourth start at this level and he is seeking his first weekend of golf - barring a disaster he looks to have surmounted that particular hurdle.

"It gives me a lot of confidence," he said of his round. "It's a privilege to be playing here with the best and let's start the party.

"It was so fun. I was a little bit nervous in the morning but I started really good and that gave me the opportunity to have fun and make some putts.

"I think I made 24 putts or something like that. It was absolutely the key (because) the last few weeks I was putting so bad and I don't know why but today it changed a lot."

Behind the obvious claims of the 6/1 Frittelli there is a little disagreement over who deserves to be rated second favourite.

Many books give it to Chesters, who lost his full card last season and is yet to win on the DP World Tour.

Others perceive Shaun Norris, the well-travelled South African, a bigger threat at 14/1.

He is a two-time winner in Japan this year, including recently at the Japan Open.

He also boasts three top four finishes on the course.

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