Stenson sets the pace in the Serengeti

11/16/2012 2:00:29 PM
Henrik Stenson  (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson (Getty Images)

Play was suspended for the day at the SA Open Championship as a storm engulfed the Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate to leave Henrik Stenson’s four shot lead intact.

Stenson’s sublime seven under par 65 came in more serene conditions as the later starters were hauled off the course after thunder rumbled and lightning flashed across the sky.

Several players, including overnight leader Merrick Bremner, 2011 Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel and the surging Tommy Fleetwood, will resume their respective rounds at 7:30am on Saturday.

Stenson had earlier stole the show in his pursuit of a first title on The European Tour for five years.

The Swede compiled a quintet of pars before his long, straight driving finally yielded a run of five birdies in seven holes.

The 36 year old came into the event ranked 59th in The Race to Dubai Rankings and seemed inspired by the opportunity to book a spot at next week’s DP World Tour Championship – in which only the top 60 will compete.

An eagle at the par five eighth extended his lead after another booming tee shot was followed by a six iron approach which left his ball within six feet.

Stenson was understandably delighted with his round, even if a squandered birdie opportunity on the ninth hole scuppered his hopes of equalling Bremner’s course record 64 yesterday.

“There’s still a lot of golf to be played. I’ve put myself in a nice position going into the weekend, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m eager to win” he said.

“I’ve hit a lot of good drives. I counted eight good drives in the first round, and that’s probably as many as I hit the entire 2011 season! It’s nice to get the feel back with the driver.”
Stenson’s compatriot Magnus Carlsson was the nearest pursuer on nine under par, with Bremner keeping him company in joint second after 14 holes.

Norwegian Espen Kofstad, the man who topped the 2012 Challenge Tour Rankings, had briefly threatened to join his fellow Scandinavians in the upper reaches of the leaderboard, yet three bogeys in five back nine holes saw him slip back.

Elsewhere, Fleetwood, who is fighting for a card on The European Tour next season, was perhaps the most disappointed to come off after finding his groove by claiming five shots in six holes.