South African Tim Clark raced into an early lead when The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa finally began at Royal Durban.
After unseasonably heavy rainfall had flooded the course and delayed the tournament start by two days, Norway’s Espen Kofstad was able to hit the first shot of The 2013 Race to Dubai at 06.30am.
The 36-year-old Clark had a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th in an outward 28 – the course par at Royal Durban was down to 65 as holes were shortened to take out some of the wettest areas – then birdied the 304 yard par four second to reach four under with six to play.
That put the three-time European Tour winner one ahead of compatriots Colin Nel and Lindani Ndwandwe, as well as Swede Bjorn Åkesson.
Richard Bland, who took the 119th and final card in a dramatic end to the 2012 season, made a good start to reach two under and join a group that included former winners Mikael Lundberg, Søren Kjeldsen and John Parry.