Sunshine Tour

Nixon takes SA Open lead

2013-11-21 19:00
Matthew Nixon (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - He called it a lucky eagle, but when Matt Nixon of England made three on the 477m par-five eighth, he moved into a one-stroke lead in the first round of the South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday.

He held that edge over Italy’s Marco Crespi and South African Jbe’ Kruger, with Christiaan Basson and Retief Goosen a further shot back on six-under-par 66. Four players shared sixth, including 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and his younger brother Attie – together with another Italian in Andrea Pavan and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen.

“I didn’t play the eighth that well, to be fair,” said Nixon who started his round on the 10th and made three consecutive birdies to get things going.

“My dad always says I play par-fives badly.

"It wasn’t the greatest tee shot and it wasn’t the greatest second shot in the world, so I had a little chip from over the right bunker.

“I played it really nicely and thought it was going to go about six feet past, but it ended up turning in nicely and dropping.

" I suspect there will be a text message from my dad waiting for me,” he laughed.

Nixon finished 105th in the 2013 Race to Dubai on the European Tour, narrowly retaining his card, and, with winter setting in back in England, was not able to practice as much as he would have liked to ahead of the SA Open Championship, which is the first event of the 2014 season on the European Tour.

“I did have a five-hour session with my sports psychologist in Dubai on the way here,” he joked, “but maybe now I have to accept that having low expectations is the way to go.”

After his opening three birdies, he made two more ahead of the turn, which he reached in 31, but then a bogey on two slowed his charge. But only momentarily. He birdied the second and the seventh ahead of his eagle and found himself in front of the field.

“I went out there with an open mind and then kept hitting it close and knocking the putts in,” he said. “I putted really well. I had 22 puts today and I think that’s the lowest I’ve ever had in a round of golf.

“I must have been doing something right on the greens! I feel quite good on them and the pace is really quick. I hit a few past, but I managed to hole-out really well and if I can keep doing that then the next three days will be alright,” he added.

He has something of a gathering of eagles around him, waiting to swoop: Kruger seemed to have finally found the form which has eluded him for most of this year, and Goosen was ominously impressive.

And with Charl Schwartzel not dropping a single shot on the way to his 67, Nixon will have to keep his wits about him if he is to keep his challenge going.

“I tried to just take it one shot at a time today and not worry about what was going on around me or what score I was going to shoot,” he said.

“If I can keep doing that it will stand me in good stead.”

Scores (RSA unless specified):
64 - Matthew Nixon (ENG)
65 - Marco Crespi (ITA), Jbe' Kruger
66 - Christiaan Basson, Retief Goosen
67 - Charl Schwartzel, Andrea Pavan (ITA), Morten Orum Madsen (DEN), Attie Schwartzel
68 - Steve Surry (ENG), Simon Dyson (ENG), Warren Abery, Tom Lewis (ENG), Wade Ormsby(AUS), David Frost, Daan Huizing (NED), Danie van Tonder
69 - Johan Carlsson (SWE), James Kamte, Alejandro Canizares (ESP), James Morrison (ENG), Justin Harding, Neil Schietekat, Bennie van der Merwe, Thomas Levet (FRA), Alexander Levy (FRA), Heinrich Bruiners, Peter Karmis
70 - Brandon Stone, Chris Swanepoel, Ulrich van den Berg, Simon Wakefield (ENG), Charl Coetzee, Vaughn Groenewald, Anthony Wall (ENG), Martin du Toit, Estanislao Goya (ARG), Keenan Davidse, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Thomas Aiken, Garth Mulroy, Oliver Bekker, Theunis Spangenberg
71 - Jared Harvey, Jean Hugo, Peter Whiteford(SCO), Jaco Van Zyl, Allan Versfeld, Thriston Lawrence (AMA), Keith Horne, Justin Turner, Louis Taylor (AMA), Doug McGuigan, Sipho Bujela, Christopher Doak (SCO), Ross Fisher (ENG), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Romain Wattel (FRA), David Drysdale (SCO), Bryce Easton, Victor Riu (FRA), Titch Moore, JJ Senekal, Simon Thornton (IRL)
72 - Mark Williams, Wallie Coetsee, Magnus A Carlsson (SWE), Alastair Forsyth (SCO), Sihwan Kim (KOR), Justin Walters, Francois Calmels (FRA), Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Gareth Maybin (NIR), Tyrone Ferreira, Nacho Elvira (ESP), Dawie Van der Walt, Dion Fourie, Neil Cheetham (ENG), Seve Benson (ENG), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Jorge Campillo (ESP), Edoardo Molinari (ITA), Jake Roos, Robert Rock (ENG), Hennie Otto, Grant Muller
73 - Tyrone Mordt, Teboho Sefatsa, PH McIntyre, Adam Gee (ENG), Eddie Pepperell (ENG), Scott Jamieson, Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Jaco Ahlers, Kristoffer Broberg (SWE), Daniel Hammond, Hendrik Buhrmann, Merrick Bremner, Tjaart van der Walt, Jacques Blaauw, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (AMA), Drikus Bruyns
74 - Colin Nel, Peter Lawrie (IRL), Louis de Jager, David Duval (USA), Dean Burmester, Mikael Lundberg(SWE), Craig Lee (SCO), Jamie McLeary (SCO), N.J. Arnoldi (AMA)
75 - Carlos Del Moral (ESP), Graeme Storm (ENG), James Kingston, Paul McGinley (IRL), T I Mazibuko, Brandon Pieters, Michael Hoey (NIR), Michael Hollick, Soren Hansen (DEN), Pieter Moolman, Ross Wellington, Francois Coetzee, Desvonde Botes, Lyle Rowe, James Heath (ENG), Andreas Harto (DEN), Adrian Otaegui (ESP), Matthew Carvell, Gert Myburgh, Ockie Strydom
76 - Andrew Curlewis, Lindani Ndwandwe, JB Hansen (DEN), Gavan Levenson, Lee Slattery (ENG), Ruan de Smidt
77 - Zander Lombard (AMA), JG Claassen, Damien McGrane (IRL), Toto Thimba (Jnr), Darren Fichardt, Andrew Georgiou, Shaun Norris, Wynand Dingle, Niclas Fasth (SWE), Paul Waring (ENG)
78 - Pablo Martin Benavides (ESP), Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Alex Haindl, Steve Webster (ENG)
79 - Justin Brink, Richard Finch (ENG)
80 - Pieter Kruger, Jacobus Mouton
89 - Stephen Swanepoel


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