Friday, 19 March 2010
Alan McLean, Scottish born but based in South Africa, provided a sting in the tail for the first round of the Tusker Kenya Open in Nairobi, the opening tournament on this year's European Challenge Tour.

The 30-year-old from Cape Town was in the final group on the course and came in with a six-under-par 65 to depose England's Andrew Sherborne, who had led for most of the day on 66.

McLean, who began his round at the 10th, gave no hint of what was to come as he started with a three-putt par five at the 538-yard hole.

But he soon got into the swing of things with birdies at 12, 17 and 18 to be out in 32 with just nine putts. Three more birdies followed in a homeward 33, including a drive of 359 yards to set up a birdie at the 6th, while he holed from 20 feet off the fringe at the eighth for another. "It was all down to my putting," he said modestly.

McLean's round might not have been so rewarding as he arrived at the course minus his Cleveland wedge. "I was practising last night at the Windsor course where I'm staying and I arrived here and realised I had left the wedge behind," he said.

Fortunately, his good friend Wallie Coetsee, an early starter, had completed his round on 67 and was able to retrieve the club, reuniting McLean with it on the 11th tee, his second hole.

Sherborne's putter was also hot as he returned an eagle and six birdies. "I just putted fantastic," he said. "I holed from 20 feet for birdies at the 2nd, 4th and ninth, then sank a 12-footer for eagle at the 10th."

Just 10 days short of his 40th birthday, Bristol-based Sherborne is looking for a fast start to the season as he bids to regain the Tour card he lost in 1999.

The chasing pack is bunched up close behind although only 34 of the 155-strong field bettered par on a warm day that began calmly but saw a breeze spring up in the afternoon which was reflected in all the later scores except for McLean’s. However, the Muthaiga course is in pristine condition with the rough strategically positioned to present an exacting examination.

Joining Coetsee on 67 are Johan Skold from Sweden, another to lose his card last year, Dutchman Nils Kraay, and Jose Romero from Spain.

Dorset-based Lee James, James Hepworth from Yorkshire, Midlander Sam Walker, Greig Hutcheon from Scotland, and amateur Kumar Dhall, the leading Kenyan, are among a large group on 68.

Among those a shot further back is former England Amateur champion Mark Foster, ex-Walker Cup Scot Lorne Kelly, and Welshman James Lee, a former winner of the Kenya title, and Alvaro Salto from Spain, who had to withdraw from last season’s Grand Final in Cuba after sustaining a rib injury.

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