Ireland’s Damien McGrane and Jamie Elson of England each shot an eight-under 63 to share the lead in the incomplete rain--affected first round at the Joburg Open on Thursday.
Nearly half the field, including defending champion Charl Schwartzel, failed to finish their rounds because of a four-hour rain delay at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
South Africa’s Desvonde Botes was part of a three-way tie for third after a seven-under 65 on the par-72 East Course. He was tied with Reinier Saxton of the Netherlands and South Africa’s Peter Karmis, who each shot 64 on the West Course.
Retief Goosen had a 66 on the West Course.
McGrane had an eagle and seven birdies and held the early clubhouse lead despite a bogey on No. 18. He was joined by Elson after play resumed. The Englishman made 10 birdies, including four in his first four holes, but dropped shots at Nos. 10 and 11.
Elson had to wait through the delay to hole an 8 foot putt for birdie on No. 16 after having been forced off the course following his tee shot on the par-3 hole.
Botes holed five birdies and ended with an eagle for the round of the day on the tougher East Course. Of the players that finished, Botes was the only one in the top 19 who opened on the East.
Goosen began with three straight birdies, but faded with a bogey and just one birdie on his back nine.
Schwartzel, the two-time defending champion, was even-par through 15 holes on the East Course after four birdies and four bogeys when bad light stopped play.
Former major winner Rich Beem was also part of the field at the US$1.65 million tournament, entering the final season of his 10-year exemption on the European Tour. Beem was two-over after 15 holes on the East Course.