Colsaerts leads at Fancourt

2012-01-19 17:32

George - Long hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts powered his way around the Links at Fancourt to a course record nine-under par 64 to lead by four shots in the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions on Thursday.

Colsaerts is ahead of three players tied on five under par, South Africans Branden Grace and Thomas Aiken and 21-year-old Englishman Tom Lewis.

Earlier in the week Scot Colin Montgomerie said Colsaerts 'must be the longest player in the world', but it was the par threes where he cashed as achieved the rare feat of birdying all four.

"That's something you don't see often on a tour card," said Colsaerts in his post round interview.

"Thinking that I can reach most of the par fives in two, so it's quite a bonus when you get to birdie the par threes. Those are not really holes where you are looking to birdie."

It was the Belgian's back nine where he caught fire and reeled off seven birdies including four in a row to finish his round.

"I holed every chance I had. I mean, I kept hitting irons very, very close to the flag."

"You know, once you hit three or four in a row you feel you can kind of hole from the fairway pretty much. I kept hitting very good shots."

The Links is known for it's difficulty, and Colsaerts paid tribute to the stern test it presents.

"This [round] is probably one of the best, if not the best [I've played]. On a course like this, even if we don't play it at the back, it's quite a serious test of golf."

"The greens are quite receptive, so if you hit good shots on the greens, the ball is going to stop pretty much where it lands. That makes a big difference. I don't think you can shoot a score like this if the greens get very firm, it's not going to happen."

The weather at Fancourt reached a sweltering 39°C in the middle of the day and made the course play differently as a result.

"I think the conditions of the course today, I'm not saying it's easier, but it's the only way you can shoot a low number like this."

Aiken heads the South African challenge along with Grace, though he struggled on the back nine at times, his front nine was a flawless four under par.

"I would say the back nine has got a little bit more scoring opportunity with three par fives," said Aiken.

"But, you know, you've still got to hit the ball really well on those par fives. The 16th is a tough driving hole, and the second shot is even tighter.

"And 18 is a nice par five, so you have quite a lot of scoring opportunities on the back nine. I just played really well on the front, gave myself a lot of opportunities, hit it close on the par threes, and capitalised and then, yeah, just hit the ball really well on the front nine."

"On the back nine, I just didn't hit it quite as well.”

Scores after the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions tournament over the par-73, 6 652m at the Links course on Thursday:

64 - Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL)
68 - Branden Grace (RSA), Tom Lewis (ENG), Thomas Aiken (RSA)
69 - David Horsey (ENG), Joost Luiten (NED), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Padraig Harrington (IRL)
70 - Matthew Zions (AUS), Colin Montgomerie (SCO)
71 - Raphael Jacquelin (FRA), Kenneth Ferrie (ENG), Hennie Otto (RSA), Garth Mulroy (RSA), Jose Maria Olazabal (ESP), Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Ernie Els (RSA)
72 - Paul Lawrie (SCO), Alexander Noren (SWE), Retief Goosen (RSA)
73 - Lee Slattery (ENG), Robert Rock (ENG)
74 - Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Robert Karlsson (SWE), Darren Clarke (NIR)
75 - SSP Chowrasia (IND), Simon Dyson (ENG), Charl Schwartzel (RSA)
76 - Pablo Martin (ESP), Matteo Manassero (ITA)
77 - Oliver Fisher (ENG)
78 - Michael Hoey (NIR)
81 - Thomas Levet (FRA)