Sterne amongst early pace setters

19/03/2010 15:02:38
South African Open Championship - Round One  (Getty Images)
South African Open Championship - Round One (Getty Images)

Three South Africans shared the early lead at the Africa Open at East London Golf Club when the opening round got under way.

Jake Roos, Darren Fichardt and Richard Sterne all reached five under par to hold a share of the lead on home soil.

English Qualifying School graduate Sam Hutsby had made a storming start to reach six under after eight holes, but a double bogey at the ninth pegged him back as he reached the turn four under.

The Hampshire player was joined on that mark by another South African, George Coetzee, as the home challenge made a promising start.

World Number 94 Sterne started on the back nine and enjoyed a hat trick of birdies from the 15th, while Fichardt had two eagles on the way out – at the par five 11th and 15th.

The 21 year old former Walker Cup star Hutsby had opened with three consecutive birdies and notched three more from the fifth, before his six on the 464 yard ninth.

Tournament favourite Charl Schwartzel, his compatriot James Kingston and England’s Nick Dougherty are amongst the later starters.