Nedbank Golf Challenge

Goosen gives Allenby lead

2009-12-03 18:03
Retief Goosen (AP)
Sun City - Retief Goosen found the notorious Sun City bush to hand Robert Allenby the sole lead late in the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player Country Club on Thursday.


After a typical Pilanesberg thunderstorm delayed play for two hours, Goosen, Allenby and Robert Karlsson all went on a birdie blitz straight after the resumption to move to four-under-par.

Goosen, who has looked in fine touch from tee to green but endured some frustration with the putter, then put his third shot on the par-five 14th hole way left of the green and into the bushes. He did not have a free swing at the ball, which was nestled against the base of a clump of Kikuyu grass, due to overhead branches and therefore took a penalty drop further into the bush. From there he chipped into the bunker, before getting up and down for a six.

With Karlsson ending a run of four successive birdies from the eighth to the 11th with a bogey on the par-four 13th, Allenby was free to claim the lead on his own by birdying the 14th, his fourth birdie in a blemish-free round.

South African Tim Clark also birdied the 14th after the players were called back on to the course to move to two-under-par.

American debutant Hunter Mahan had pars all through the front nine and then reacted in anger to a bogey at the par-four 11th by rattling in birdies on the 12th and 14th holes.
The other South African in the field, Richard Sterne, was having fun on the back nine as he birdied the 10th and 14th holes to move to one-under-par.

Masters champion Angel Cabrera, whose power on a course with less penal rough was expected to make him a strong contender, was not handling the course with particular ease as he parred the first four holes of the back nine and then bogeyed the 15th to go to one-over.

Luke Donald partially made up for a double-bogey at the second and a bogey at the third when he made a sand-save for par at the eighth and then birdied the ninth.
Debutants Ross Fisher and Rory McIlroy were also in the wars on two-over-par, but with no one shooting the lights out at the head of the field, their hopes have not quite died yet.

Play re-started at 16:05 after the two-hour rain delay with three players tied for the lead.

Home favourite Goosen, Australian Allenby and Swede Karlsson were all at three-under-par when the players were sent off the course. Goosen and Karlsson had both just birdied the par-five 10th, while Allenby had played 12 holes.

Clark was the only other player under par at the time of the suspension, on one-under.

McIlroy still hadn’t got going when the threat of lightening arrived. His latest drama was hitting his second into the water at the par-five ninth, which resulted in a fourth bogey. Although he birdied the next hole, he was still one-over-par.

Allenby had earlier picked up three birdies on the front nine to race into the lead before Goosen and Karlsson caught up.

The Australian went carefully around the first loop of the Gary Player CC with immaculate iron play and his birdies came at the par-five second, the par-four fifth and the par-five ninth, where his 25-foot eagle putt just missed after he made the spectacular island green in two.

Goosen looked in fine form and, had his putter been a little hotter, could have been in a share of the lead on the front nine. As it was, the 2004 champion made a fine start, birdying the first hole after an excellent approach shot to four feet, and narrowly missed birdie putts at the second and eighth holes.

World number 10 McIlroy recovered from a mindnumbing start in which he bogeyed the first and third holes to go to even par after six holes with birdies on the fourth and fifth.
Englishman Donald, playing with defending champion Stenson, seemed bowled over by the occasion as he double-bogeyed the second and bogeyed the third hole.

European Tour Race to Dubai runner-up McIlroy bogeyed the par-four first when his tee-shot missed the fairway, his approach was way off in thick rough and his chip to the green died in long grass short of the putting surface.

McIlroy then dropped another shot on the par-four third when he at least landed on the green in regulation, but then three-putted.

Allenby moved into the lead with birdies at the par-five second and par-four fifth.

Big-hitting Argentine Cabrera powered to a birdie on the third hole, but then bogeyed the sixth when his drive landed under a bush.

Sterne recovered from a wayward opening drive to provide immediate proof that this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge will not be as taxing as in previous years.

Sterne sent his opening tee shot of the 29th Nedbank Golf Challenge way right of the fairway, but the new graduated rough at Gary Player CC means there is not nearly as hefty a tariff on wayward strokes as there used to be.

Sterne still managed to par the 403-metre par-four thanks to an excellent approach shot to six feet, very nearly registering a birdie but for getting the wrong weight on the curling putt.

Allenby also parred the first hole, leaving his 10-foot birdie putt short.

But the Australian did not have to wait long to go to the top of the leaderboard, birdying the par-five second after a superb approach shot to 16 feet, his eagle putt stopping just next to the hole.

Clark got up and down from a fairway bunker to par the first hole and then birdied the par-five second, before returning to level-par with a bogey on eight.

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