Elson shares Joburg Open lead
Johannesburg - He took more than four hours over a birdie putt of eight feet, but England’s Jamie Elson rammed it home after a weather delay and it helped him to a share of the first-round lead of the Joburg Open.
He joined Damien McGrane at the head of the leaderboad at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in the first round of the €1,3-million tournament at eight-under-par 63 on the par-71 West Course, one stroke clear of Desvonde Botes, who carded a superlative seven-under-par 65 on the par-72 East Course.
There were still players out on the course as the siren sounded just before 19:00, as a series of persistent electric storms held up play for over four hours from just after lunch till just before 6pm.
It didn’t deter Elson much: “I had just hit a good shot on 16, the par-three, and there was a strong downwind,” he said. “With the water short it was a pretty good shot and left myself with an eight-footer when I resumed play. I managed to knock that in and then finished well.”
He started superbly too. “I got off to a flyer. I birdied the first, second, third and then chipped in at the fourth,” he said. He followed with another two before the ninth to turn in 30.
But he let his iron grip slip a little: “I hit driver off 10, which was an error. We walked the course yesterday and we circled the spot I wanted to hit it to, which was a three-wood shot, but I had been hitting driver well, so we went with driver and I hit a poor shot and made five there. And then another poor shot at the next compounded the error and I made two bogeys in a row."
But after that he didn’t put a foot wrong as he made four more birdies to give him a nice little burst of momentum ahead of his round on the more difficult East Course - something he is eagerly anticipating.
“I had a good year here last year - I think I shot six-under on the second day at the hard course, so if I can do that again it would be nice,” said Elson.
Botes is another who finds the East Course an attractive proposition. “I’ve always enjoyed the East Course more,” he said. “As an amateur, I played close to 65 around here, but since I turned pro, I haven’t played well at this course.”
The secret, said Botes, is accuracy. “I kept it in play and made a lot of fairways. I also made a lot of greens - I think I only missed two the whole day.”
And lack of accuracy was precisely the problem confronting defending champion Charl Schwartzel. He was on level-par on the 16th tee when the siren sounded, and it brought an end to a day on which he made four birdies and four bogeys.
But he will take solace from the fact that his victory last year was built on a superb 10-under-par 61 on the West Course on the second day.
For now, though, McGrane and Elson will sleep easy after a job well done.
Incomplete scores (RSA unless specified):
-8 - Damien McGrane (IRL), Jamie Elson (ENG)
-7 - Desvonde Botes, Reinier Saxton (NED), Peter Karmis
-6 - Joel Sjoholm (SWE), David Drysdale (SCO), George Coetzee, George Murray (SCO), Carlos Del Moral (ESP), Shaun Norris
-5 - Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Retief Goosen, Peter Hedblom (SWE), Warren Abery, Richard Finch (ENG), Marc Warren (SCO), Wallie Coetsee, Brandon Pieters, Robert Rock (ENG) , Andy Sullivan (ENG) 
-4 - Chris Swanepoel, Jaco Van Zyl, Ulrich van den Berg, Bennie van der Merwe, Michiel Bothma, Branden Grace , Mikael Lundberg(SWE) , Lyle Rowe , Jordi Garcia (ESP) , Craig Lee (SCO) , Julien Quesne (FRA) 
-3 - Theunis Spangenberg, Des Terblanche, Jean Hugo, Jake Roos, Thomas Aiken, Daniel Gaunt (AUS), Robert Dinwiddie (ENG), Darren Fichardt, Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Adam Gee (ENG), Trevor Fisher Jnr, Justin Walters, Dean O'Riley, Ryan Tipping, Doug McGuigan, Sam Hutsby (ENG), Allan Versfeld, Jbe' Kruger , Vaughn Groenewald , Alex Haindl , Richard Bland (ENG) , Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA) , Justin Harding , Martin Maritz , Scott Pinckney (USA) , Beyers Smith 
-2 - Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (MEX), Seve Benson (ENG), Michael du Toit, Dawie Van der Walt, Danny Willett (ENG), Gregory Havret (FRA), Chris Gane (ENG), Magnus A Carlsson (SWE), Pelle Edberg (SWE), Matthew Nixon (ENG), Andrew Parr (CAN), Ricardo Santos (POR), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Divan van den Heever , Agustin Domingo (ESP) , Andrew Johnston (ENG) , Hendrik Buhrmann , Sam Little (ENG) , Bruce McDonald (ZIM) , Alan McLean (SCO) , Teboho Sefatsa , Chris Lloyd (ENG) 
-1 - Raymond Russell (SCO), Phillip Archer (ENG), Ariel Canete (ARG), Roope Kakko (FIN), Alessandro Tadini (ITA), Markus Brier (AUT), Andrea Pavan (ITA), Guillaume Cambis (FRA), Andrew Marshall (ENG), Colin Nel, Toto Thimba (Jnr), Neil Schietekat , Scott Jamieson (SCO) , Merrick Bremner , Keith Horne , Maarten Lafeber (NED) , John Parry (ENG) , TC Charamba (ZIM) , Ben Mannix (ENG) , Joakim Lagergren (SWE) , Thomas Norret (DEN) , Benjamin Hebert (FRA) 
Par - Daniel Greene, David Dixon (ENG), Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Niclas Fasth (SWE), PH McIntyre, Hennie Otto, Lasse Jensen(DEN), Brandon Stone (AMA), Neil Cheetham (ENG), JG Claassen, Alvaro Velasco (ESP), Ockie Strydom, Matthew Carvell, Taco Remkes (NED), Barry Lane (ENG), Joshua Cunliffe, Bradford Vaughan, Richard Sterne , Adrian Otaegui (ESP) , Peter Gustafsson (SWE) , Peter Lawrie (IRL) , Charl Schwartzel , Garth Mulroy , Christiaan Basson , Tjaart van der Walt , Steven O'Hara (SCO) , Chris Wood (ENG) , Daniel Denison (ENG) , Oliver Bekker , Simon Wakefield (ENG) , Morne Buys , Sam Walker (ENG) , Kyle Scott , Robert Wiederkehr (SUI) , Callie Swart 
+1 - Tyrone Ferreira, Scott Strange (ENG), Andrew Georgiou, Victor Riu (FRA), David Hewan, Tim Sluiter (NED), HP Bacher (AUT), Sipho Bujela (AMA), Joachim B Hansen (DEN), Oliver Wilson (ENG) , Lee Slattery (ENG) , James Kingston , Johan du Buisson , Benn Barham (ENG) , Louis de Jager , Anthony Snobeck (FRA) , Lloyd Kennedy (ENG) , Wil Besseling (NED) , Jose-Filipe Lima (POR) , Andre Cruse , Aron Zemmer (ITA) , Mark Williams , Grant Veenstra 
+2 - Ryan Thompson, Lindani Ndwandwe, Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Titch Moore, Knut Borsheim (NOR), Musiwalo Nethunzwi (AMA), Steven Ferreira, Coenie Stoop, Rich Beem (USA) , Anthony Wall (ENG) , Florian Praegant (AUT) , Grant Muller , Steve Basson 
+3 - Danie van Tonder, Lloyd Saltman (SCO), Jorge Campillo (ESP), Albert Pistorius, Andrew Curlewis, Louis Moolman, Martin du Toit, Steven Jeppesen (SWE), David Howell (ENG) , Tyrone Mordt , Matthew Southgate (ENG) , Alastair Forsyth(SCO) , James Kamte , Simon Thornton (IRL) 
+4 - Alpheus Kelapile, Bernd Ritthammer (GER), Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Kenneth Ferrie (ENG), Jamie Moul (ENG), Charles-Edouard Russo (FRA), Darryn Lloyd, Thabang Simon, Omar Sandys , Mark Murless , Espen Kofstad (NOR) 
+5 - Morten Orum Madsen (DEN), Alan Michell, Jaco Ahlers, Blanche Lamprecht, Frederico Colombo (ITA) 
+6 - Edouard Dubois (FRA), Prinavin Nelson, Drikus van der Walt
+9 - Attie Schwartzel
+12 - Jonathan Raphunga (AMA)
RTD - Julien Guerrier (FRA) , Adrien Bernadet (FRA)