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A 60 percent chance of rain was predicted for Johannesburg, but play in the golf Open was only stopped for an hour before players were back on the green.
STORMY weather stopped play for about an hour at the Joburg Open around noon on Friday, with competition heating up later in the afternoon as players tried to make the weekend cut


Thomas leadsThomas Aiken hits a shot after play resumes (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)The weatherman had predicted a 60 percent chance of rain. Soon after the rain stopped, Thomas Aiken resumed play on 13-under-par, in the lead. The Joburg Open is being played at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in Linksfield.

Aiken, a Joburger, is the 11th-highest ranked player on the field. He shot a seven-under-par 64 on the east course and got seven birdies through 12 holes on the west course to go to 13-under overall. He dropped a shot on the par-three eighth hole and was one ahead of Jamie Elson and compatriot Martin Maritz.

Last year’s winner, Charl Schwartzel, James Kingston, Jamie Elson and Maritz are other strong contenders for the first prize. When play resumed, Schwartzel and Kingston were both seven-under through 12 holes on the west course to go to 10-under overall and a tie for sixth place.

Elson played six-under through 15 holes, which included a run of five straight birdies from the fifth hole, adding three at the par-four 11th, on the east course.

Branden Grace, who was leading play at lunchtime yesterday, started the day on eight-under in third place. He played three holes and birdied the par-four first hole on the east course. Darren Clarke moved to four-under-par overall through 15 holes.


Thomas watches Charl closelyThomas Aiken watches Charl Schwartzel closely as the reigning champion tees off (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Joburg’s director of events and marketing, Bongi Mokaba, said the calibre of golfers at the Joburg Open was proof that the tournament was growing. “The City was even inundated with invites from international and local players.”

Forecasting the future of the tournament, she said she could only see growth. “My task is to make the Joburg Open the best tournament in the country.”

City manager Mavela Dlamini pointed out that the significance of co-sanctioning was that the winner earned an exemption right to play on the European Tour for three years, “which translates to greater exposure, larger prize opportunities and great prestige”.

The Open is co-sanctioned by the European Tour. For Johannesburg, though, it is about more than winning the trophy.

“We have always believed that there is so much more to golf that teeing off; from managing the event, grooming the course, coaching, promotions to just retailing merchandise and creating a network platform for players and spectators,” he added.

“The tournament has been anchored in a theme that attempts to enhance the development of this great game and sport by allowing a few raw amateurs that have proven potential in their respective clubs and pit them on the tee box with the seasoned pros.”

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Joburg Open