Johannesburg - Martin Maritz and Tyrone Mordt both fired opening rounds of nine under par 62 to share the lead after the first round of the Joburg Open on Thursday at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
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The pair finished a shot ahead of early leader Branden Grace, who signed for a 63.
The 210-man field will play a round on each of the east and west courses, before the halfway cut is made and the final two rounds will be played over the east course.
Maritz, who played the longer, tougher east course layout, attributed his low score to good ball striking.
"All the birdies I made today were from two putts or either from knocking it to within a couple of inches or feet, so I didn't have to work too hard with the putter," he said.
Maritz recently returned from the United States, where he was working as a club professional, to play on the Sunshine Tour.
"I did take a little bit of a break over the last three years. I was a club pro in the States at two different courses, Meadowbrook Country Club and the Patriot in Tulsa Oklahoma. It was a great experience but I missed competing," he said.
The 33-year-old came back into form at the SA Open where he finished in a tie for 12th.
"Coming back this time I'm excited to play golf again, and maybe that's what was missing from my game in the past."
Mordt, who played the west course, enjoyed a fast start to his round.
"I started off well today, birdied the first two holes and just kept the momentum going," he said.
"My putter got hot on the back nine. I didn't necessarily hit it that well, but just holed some good putts.
"Today it was basically my putting that got me to nine under, but I look forward to hitting it better."
Earlier, Grace fired the lowest round of the morning field playing the west course with two birdies and an eagle on his opening nine.
"I got an eagle on nine, I hit driver down the fairway and hit a five iron in and made about a 15-footer for eagle," he said.
"One of the keys is to go low on the west and fortunately I've done that today. I didn't really make any mistakes out there and it went according to plan."
Thomas Aiken also put himself in contention with a seven under par 64 on the east course, his only drop shot coming his final hole.
"I hit it in the fairway bunker there and had a decent lie. I could have hit my second shot anywhere else and it would have been fine, but I had no shot from behind the tree for my third," he said.
"All I need to do tomorrow is go out there and give myself chances and if the puts go in then I'll have a good score."
Leading and selected Joburg Open first round scores
62 - Martin Maritz, Tyrone Mordt
63 - Branden Grace
64 - Thomas Aiken, Alexandre Kaleka (FRA)
- Robert Dinwiddie (ENG), Jamie Elson (ENG), Divan van den Heever, PH
McIntyre, Stuart Manley (WAL), Garth Mulroy, Marius Thorp (NOR), Floris
de Vries (NED)
66 - Neil Cheetham (ENG), Andre Cruse, David
Dixon (ENG), Jamie Donaldson (WAL), Ben Evans (ENG), Peter Gustafsson
(SWE), James Kamte, Ben Mannix (ENG), George Murray (SCO), Alexander
Noren (SWE), Robert Rock (ENG), Allan Versfeld, Paul Waring (ENG)
- Clodomiro Carranza (ARG), Shiv Chowrasia (IND), David Drysdale (SCO),
Adam Gee (ENG), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA), Ross McGowan (ENG), Colm
Moriarty (IRL), Pedro Oriol (ESP), Deane Pappas, *Danie van Tonder,
Bradford Vaughan, Marc Warren (SCO)
68 - James Kingston, Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne
69 - Gareth Maybin (NIR)
70 - Darren Clarke (NIR), Steven O'Hara (SCO)
72 - Soren Hansen (DEN), Anthony Kang (USA), Danny Willett (ENG)
74 - Markus Brier (AUT)
81 - Michael Jonzon (SWE)
- Joburg Open co-sanctioned by European Tour and South African Sunshine Tour
- Each competitor plays one round each over east and west course and final 36 holes over east
- * denotes amateur