Thursday, 07 December 2017
Keenan Davidse  (Getty Images)
Keenan Davidse (Getty Images)

Home favourite Keenan Davidse fired a 63 to set the clubhouse target on day one of the Joburg Open.

A field of 240 had gathered at Randpark Golf Club for the final European Tour event of the calendar year, with the players tackling both the Firethorn and Bushwillow courses in Johannesburg.

Tuesday's pro-am was cancelled due to a flooded course and further heavy rain in the area had softened the courses up but a blustery wind was proving a test for the field.

Davidse was playing the Bushwillow layout and his 63 got him to eight under, a shot clear of England's Matthew Baldwin who was also playing the shorter course.

South African duo Oliver Bekker and Dean Burmester, Dane Joachim B Hansen and Finn Mikko Korhonen were then six under having completed the Firethorn, with Australian Scott Barr at the same mark having tackled the Bushwillow.

Davidse - whose only European Tour top ten was at this event last season - birdied the first, fourth and fifth and after dropping a shot on the sixth he did not look back, making further gains on the eighth, 12th, 14th and 17th before finishing his round with a monster birdie putt on the last.

Baldwin - who regained his card at the Qualifying School in November - had a roller coaster start to his round, eagling the par five first and birdieing the second before going bogey-birdie on the third and fourth.

A second birdie of the day was to come on the 12th and he made it five shots gained on the par fives at the 17th before putting his approach to tap-in range on the last.

Fellow Englishman Richard McEvoy was also seven under with four holes to play on the Firethorn.

Korhonen turned in 36 with a birdie on the second and bogey on the sixth but caught fire after the turn, rattling off six birdies in a row from the tenth.

Hansen is a two-time Challenge Tour graduate and he made four birdies in a row from the second before adding another on the ninth and holing a lengthy left-to-righter on the tenth to hit the front on his own.

He bogeyed the 11th but had a tap-in on the 14th and put his tee-shot to six feet on the next before dropping a shot on the 16th.

Burmester made birdies on the second, sixth, tenth, 12th, 15th and 17th, while Bekker was also bogey-free in his 66 with gains on the fourth, ninth, 12th, 14th, 15th and 17th.

Barr had a single bogey in his 65 on the Bushwillow Course.

Englishman Ross McGowan had to regain his card at the Q School and after he dropped a shot on the third following a birdie-birdie start, he made further gains on the sixth, 12th, 17th and 18th to get to five under.

Fellow graduate Andrea Pavan was alongside him with one hole to play, with South African Erik van Rooyen five under at the turn.

Cristopher Cannon, George Coetzee, Stephen Ferreira, Jean Hugo, Bryandrew Roelofsz, Tyrone Ryan and Henric Sturehed were then at four under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SHARMA, ShubhankarIND18-23
2VAN ROOYEN, ErikRSA18-20
T3NORRIS, ShaunRSA18-17
T3PULKKANEN, TapioFIN18-17
5ARMITAGE, MarcusENG18-15
T6HANSEN, Joachim B.DEN18-13

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