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Hidalgo and Lawrence lead after historic day in South Africa

Hidalgo and Lawrence lead after historic day in South Africa

The DP World Tour era began on day one of the Joburg Open with two young stars hitting the top of the leaderboard before play was suspended due to lightning.

Angel Hidalgo

Local favourite Dean Burmester hit the first tee shot of the 2022 season, the first to be called the DP World Tour after the European Tour group and its long-term partner announced a ground-breaking agreement that will see 47 events played in 27 countries with a total prize fund of more than US$200million.

Spaniard Angel Hidalgo cared a 65 to set the clubhouse target at six under at Randpark Golf Club, with South African Thriston Lawrence joining him at the summit with one hole to complete.

England's Ashley Chesters was a shot off the lead, one clear of home trio Hennie du Plessis, Dylan Frittelli and Zander Lombard, Spanish duo Pep Angles and Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, Frenchman Frederic Lacroix and Italian Lorenzo Scalise.

Hidalgo narrowly missed out on graduation from the European Challenge Tour last season, finishing 22nd in the Rankings as 20 players earned their DP World Tour cards.

The 23-year-old is searching for a first weekend appearance in just his fourth DP World Tour event and handed himself an excellent platform, beating his previous lowest round by six shots.

"It gives me a lot of confidence," he said. "It's a privilege to be playing here with the best and let's start the party.

"It was so fun. I was a little bit nervous in the morning but I started really good and that gave me the opportunity to have fun and make some putts.

"I think I made 24 putts or something like that. It was absolutely the key, the last few weeks I was putting so bad and I don't know why but today it changed a lot."

Affiliate DP World Tour member Lawrence is looking for a first top ten in his 22nd event but was a winner on the Sunshine Tour in 2019.

After the target had been set at four under in the morning, Hidalgo made a fast climb up the leaderboard, birdieing the 12th and 13th and making an eagle on the par five 14th.

It's a privilege to be playing here with the best and let's start the party - Angel Hidalgo

A dropped shot on the next saw him fall back but he birdied the 16th and another gain on the 18th saw him turn in 31 and lead on his own.

A bogey on the first put him back in a share but he reclaimed the shot on the sixth and took the solo lead thanks to an approach to four feet at the ninth.

Lawrence also started on the tenth and began his round with a birdie but gave the shot straight back before joining Hidalgo in making an eagle on the 14th.

Birdies followed on the 17th and par five fourth, with a second eagle of the day at the short par four sixth sending him to the top of the leaderboard.

The 24-year-old was playing his final hole when the hooter sounded.

Chesters has not recorded a top ten for over two years but after turning in 36 with a birdie on the 15th and bogey on the 18th, he made five birdies in six holes from the first to fly up the leaderboard.

It was a good day for 2021 Challenge Tour graduates, with Garcia-Heredia and Lacroix both finishing in the top 20 last season.

Lacroix made a spectacular chip-in eagle at the sixth to go with five birdies, a bogey and a double, while a 30 footer on the 12th was one of five birdies in Garcia-Heredia's round, which also contained a single bogey.

Angles finished in a tie for second at last month's Mallorca Golf Open and brought some of that form with him to Johannesburg, carding an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys.

Du Plessis dropped a single shot in his 67, while Frittelli made six birdies and two bogeys, and Lombard and Scalise both had a hole left to play.

Multiple winners Ross Fisher and Renato Paratore were then in a group of nine players at three under.

JC Ritchie made the first hole-in-one of the DP World Tour era as he aced the 17th with a seven iron from 221 yards.

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