Thursday, 07 December 2017
Day 1 Highlights - Joburg Open

Home favourite Keenan Davidse got off his sickbed to fire an excellent 63 and take the first-round lead at 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.

Davidse was playing the Bushwillow layout and his 63 got him to eight under, a shot clear of European Tour Members Matthew Baldwin, Sebastian Heisele and James Morrison, and South African trio Jared Harvey, Ockie Strydom and Erik van Rooyen.

Tuesday's pro-am was cancelled due to a flooded course and further heavy rain in the area had softened the courses up, with placing on the fairways leading to some low scoring.

Davidse's best European Tour finish in 26 starts is a tie for seventh at this event last season and he made an excellent start after missing the cut at last week's AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and spending four days in hospital.

He 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.

"I'm obviously very happy," he said. "I've worked very hard. I went to Mauritius last week and didn't play too well. I was in hospital for about four days so I'm very chuffed today.

"When I played the Sunshine Tour event at Simola my little boy was sick with a bad chest. Then my wife had flu and then I got flu and lost a lot of weight. I couldn't deal with that and the heat in Mauritius so I checked myself into hospital for four days.

I was in hospital for about four days so I'm very chuffed today - Keenan Davidse

"I didn't really have any expectations coming into the week. I'm just out here to have fun, obviously, so I'm very blessed to be playing well.

"It's always nice leading a big tournament and especially the Joburg Open. I needed to play well today - it's a good feeling."

All the players at seven under were also playing the Bushwillow Course.

Englishman 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 eagle 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.

German Heisele - another Q School graduate - also eagled the first and 12th, birdieing the eighth and bogeying the 13th before a birdie-birdie-birdie finish.

England's Morrison was bogey-free in his 64, making birdies on the fourth, fifth, sixth, 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th.

Strydom and Van Rooyen both eagled the first in their rounds, with Harvey making seven birdies.

South Africans Oliver Bekker and Dean Burmester, English duo Nathan Kimsey and Richard McEvoy, Finnish trio Mikko Korhonen, Oliver Lindell and Tapio Pulkkanen, Australian Scott Barr, Dane Joachim B Hansen and Pole Adrian Meronk were at six under, a shot clear of English pair Daniel Brooks and Ross McGowan, Italian Andrea Pavan and Spaniard Carlos Pigem.

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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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