Thursday, 24 November 2011
Steven O'Hara  (Getty Images)
Steven O'Hara (Getty Images)
Scotland's Steven O'Hara -with his European Tour future on the line- made a brilliant start to the SA Open Championship at Serengeti .

At 134th on The Race to Dubai the 31 year old needs a top four finish to keep his card and with a seven under par 65 he shared the early lead.

O'Hara was level with South Africa's Jbe Kruger, while twice winner Retief Goosen was one behind and five-time champion Ernie Els was just setting off in his title defence.

O'Hara eagled the long eighth and had six birdies, his only dropped shot coming on the 445 yard fourth.

Top four is the target, but top five would keep his European Tour hopes alive as it would earn him a place in next week's UBS Hong Kong Open, the last chance for those struggling this season.

Goosen, who like Els has just dropped outside the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50, chipped in for eagle on the 382 yard second - his 11th - and reached seven under before bogeying the seventh and eighth.

The second of those was particularly disappointing as he had elected to lay up on the par five, but he was then inches away from a closing hole-in-one after his ball trickled down the slope behind the flag.

"I probably should have gone for the green at eight," Goosen said. "It was a bit of a poor finish, but I got lucky on the last."

England's Simon Dyson, at 32nd in the Official World Golf Ranking the highest-ranked player in the field, finished with two birdies for a 70, while ex-Ryder Cup player Phillip Price, just inside the cut-off at 117th on The Race to Dubai, was five under with three to play and doing his hopes of extending his European Tour career no end of good.

Last week's winner Garth Mulroy was alongside him and Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin, currently in the hot seat of 118th this season, a mere €10 ahead of Indian Shiv Kapur, handed in a three under 69.

Maybin and Kapur are both in the field for the UBS Hong Kong Open, but O'Hara and Price are currently not.

Els hit back from an opening bogey with three birdies in a row, but another dropped shot on the sixth left him one under.

O'Hara and Kruger continued to lead, but Goosen was joined in third place by compatriots David Hewan and Merrick Bremner, while Price bogeyed the long 16th and had to settle for being three behind on four under.
 

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1OTTO, HennieRSA18-14
2WIESBERGER, BerndAUT18-13
T3MCEVOY, RichardENG18-11
T3STRYDOM, OckieRSA18-11
T3AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-11
T6FISHER JNR, TrevorRSA18-10
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