Retief Goosen and Alex Cejka were locked at the top of a congested leaderboard after the opening round of the South African Open at Durban Country Club on Friday.
Both players fired eight--under 64s to take a one-shot lead over the South African duo of world No. 12 Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel.
Six players were tied a further shot back, on six-under, and there were 10 players on five-under, including The Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Goosen was the first to take advantage of benign conditions at the coastal course, with a round that included six birdies and two eagles.
The South African resumed on two-under through four holes after most of the first day’s play was washed out and he made his intentions clear with a birdie on the first hole of the day, the 527-yard par-five 14th.
The 41-year-old dropped a shot on 17, but more than made up for the lapse with an eagle on the par-four 18th. His tee shot found the front edge of the green, before the two-time South African Open champion nailed the long putt.
Despite the flourish, Goosen, ranked 17 in the world, said his iron play had underpinned his round.
“My driving could have been better and I missed a few fairways out there, but I hit a lot of iron shots close, which made putting a little bit easier,” he told a press conference.
Germany’s Cejka turned in a bogey-free round as he picked up four birdies on each nine to put himself in contention.
The 40-year-old said his decision to play conservatively on the narrow course had paid dividends.
“I just played smart, with a lot of three irons and three woods off the tees because it is a tricky course,” he told reporters.
Els, the four-time South African Open champion, found his rhythm on the back nine, shooting three birdies and an eagle.
“I missed a few putts on the front nine and was getting a little annoyed with myself,” Els said. “Hopefully that back nine will give me a lot of confidence for the weekend.”
In an effort to make up for time lost to rain, organizers decided to move the cut line from 65 and ties to 50 and ties after the second round. They will also attempt 36 holes today to avoid having to finish tomorrow.
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