Thursday, January 08, 2015

South African Open Championship report, scores

DRYSDALE (7 birdies) SHOOTS A 68, 


with some additional words by Colin Farquharson 
Last year’s runner-up Jbe Kruger and England’s Andy Sullivan from Nuneaton share the lead on six-under 66 after the opening round of the South African Open Championship at Gauteng, Johannesburg.
 Scot David Drysdale, pictured, finished the day with a 68 after carding seven birdies. He is in joint sixth place.
Kruger and Sullivan completed matching six-under-par rounds of 66 following an afternoon delay due to thunder and the threat of lightning to lie one shot ahead of tournament host and five-time winner Ernie Els, 2009 champion Richard Sterne and Denmark’s Lasses Jensen.
Kruger’s only previous European Tour win came in India three years ago, but he produced six birdies in a flawless round.

“I think this is probably the perfect start,” said the South African. “When you have a couple of weeks off you can’t ask for better start just to get the confidence back up and going.
“I think this is probably the biggest one you can win as a South African. I’ve been ready for the last six or seven months, but it’s not up to me.
“I’m trying as hard as I can, but if it’s not in His will then you just have to accept it. Last year I had a bad second or third round and wasn’t in with a chance, but I shot 65 on the final day – I’d just like to be in with a chance.”
Former Walker Cup star Sullivan pitched in for eagle at the 15th and made six birdies after a double bogey at the fifth had threatened to spoil his day.
“I’m just thrilled to be in the position that I am,” he said.
“I played really good today. I took the course on a little bit, took driver as much as possible, and it paid off for me.
“I’ve had a history of not doing well after weather delays, so it was nice to get back out there and do what I did. There’s a few times where it hasn’t turned out great, so to do that means I’m improving in the right areas.
“On the 15th I actually missed the fairway. I drew some sort of good lie in the rough, I got it to the front edge with a rescue and as soon as I hit the chip it checked up on the third bounce and it was tracking – it’s nice when they come off.”
Sullivan won a trip to space for a hole-in-one at last year’s KLM Open, but revealed he is in no rush to live up to his ‘rocket man’ billing.
“It only starts in December,” he added. “They’re testing a few things at the moment.
“It looks like I’ll be getting shot up there at some point - I can take it when I want, so I might just take it when I’m 80 and think ‘Well, I’ve had a good life now’. I’ll definitely let a few go before I entertain it!”
Earlier Els had carded six birdies and one bogey to set the morning’s clubhouse target at Glendower Golf Club in his native Ekurhuleni.
The 45 year old started on the back nine and recovered from a bogey on the 12th with birdies at the 13th, 14th and 16th to be out in 34, before picking up further shots on the second and fifth.
Els missed a good birdie chance on the seventh from 15 feet, but finished his round in style with a superb iron shot to two feet on the ninth for a closing birdie as he looks to make amends for a winless season in 2014 on both sides of the Atlantic.
"That was nice," said Els, who failed to register a top-three finish on The European Tour last season for the first time since 1992. "I was a little nervous here and there but it was so nice to play Glendower in front of my home crowd."
Els has reverted to a normal putter ahead of the ban on anchored strokes which comes into effect in 2016, and admitted short putts were "still a little bit nerve-wracking".
However, the home favourite and four-time Major winner was delighted with his iron shots on a course featuring thick rough surrounding the narrow fairways.
"I have been working on that a little bit, taking a little distance off and trying not to hit them too hard," he added.
"Coming off the fairway they were coming out nice and crisp so I enjoyed my iron shots today.
"We have had a nice start now and I want to keep it up, get better on the greens a little more and see where we end up."
SCOTSWATCH: David Drysdale birdied the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th on his way to a four-under 68, two shots off the lead. Drysdale had seven birdies in all and will start the second round in a share of sixth place.
The man from Cockburnspath (on the coastal route between Edinburgh and Berwick), finished sixth at Leopards Creek and stayed on in South Africa to spend Christman at the Kruger National Park before seeing in the New year at Stellenbosch.
Drysdale told "The Scotsman" golf correspondent, Martin Dempster: 
“South Africa has become a second home for me over the past decade or so and I love it down here. Fillet steaks, red wine, great weather and great golf courses – what more can you ask?”
Chris Doak and Paul Lawrie both signed for 71s and a share of 28th place.
Lawrie, determined to climb the world rankings from his current 323 position after a dreadful 2014 season - by his standards - birdied the fifth, 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th. He bogeyed the second, seventh, 16th and 18th.


Par 72. Players from South Africa unless stated
66 Andy Sullivan (England), Jbe Kruger
67 Ernie Els, Lasse Jensen (Denmark), Richard Sterne.
68 Jordi Garcia Pinto (Spain), David Drysdale (Scotland), Charl Schwartzel, Colin Nel.
69 Niclas Fasth (Sweden), Edoardo Molinari (Italy), Raphail Jacquelin (France), Tom Murray (England), Erik Van Rooyen.

71 Chris Doak, Paul Lawrie (T28)
77 Scott Henry (T126)





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