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​South Africans dominate Joburg Open’s leaderboard

South Africa’s Nic Henning shot a flawless round of nine under par 62 on his way to grabbing the early lead on the first day of the Joburg Open played under clear skies at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on 26 February.

The Knysna-based Johannesburger, whose father was incidentally a pro at this club, took full advantage of the forgiving West course to stamp his authority ahead of the second day today (Friday February 27).

Teeing-off late in the afternoon, Henning rewrote the script after everybody had resigned themselves to believing the early pacesetting trio of Tjaard van der Walt, Titch Moore and Belgian sensation Thomas Pieters were going to end the day tied for the lead at eight under 63.

The first seven lower scores – Henning (62); Van der Walt, Moore and Pieters (63); and Dean Burmester, Garth Mulroy and Australian Jason Scrivener (64) – were all recorded on the West course, confirmation that it is player-friendly.

The East course only went up the leaderboard when Englishman Sam Hutsby posted a six under 66 to share eighth spot with Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen, Scott Henry (Scotland), South Korean Byeong-Hun An and South African Wallie Coetzee, all playing on the West course. Defending champion George Coetzee, playing on the East course, shot a modest five under par 66 to share 16th spot with eight others.

The East course plays the usually par 72 rating, whereas the West plays the otherwise demanding par 71, although it is known for its playability. It is, in other words, a forgiving course, as evidenced by the lower scoring there.

Recently appointed Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke did not have things his way, shooting level par 72 on the East course. Today will see a change in the playing order. Those who were on the East course will play on the West course, and vice-versa.