Nicolas Colsaerts, Bill Haas Lead At The Nedbank Challenge

By Les Bailey
Bill Haas

The 2012 Nedbank Golf Challenge got underway on Thursday at the famous Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa. All hands are on deck to see that Lee Westwood does not once again take home the winners share of the $5 million purse. The field consists of 12 of the world’s top players on both the European and PGA Tours. European Ryder Cup rookie, Nicolas Colsaerts and American Bill Haas shot opening round -2 under par 70s to take the early lead.

Colsaerts opened with a birdie at the first hole. He birdied the 10th and 11th holes, but gave a shot back at the 450 meter par 4, 8th hole. Haas had a more up and down day, with five birdies, and two bogeys. Haas won the Northern Trust Open at Riveria back in February, in a playoff with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.

Three players are one shot back at -1 under par: Paul Lawrie from Ireland, Lee Westwood, and home boy Louis Oosthuizen. A gaggle of players are at level par, including Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari, Carl Pettersson and South African Charl Schwartzel.  Bringing up the rear are Justin Rose, who shot a +1 over 73, and Garth Mulroy at +3 over 75.

Mulroy is a 33-year-old South African who won the Sunshine Tour Championship in 2011. He also enjoys PGA and European Tour privleges by finishing in the top 25 on the tour.  He currently is ranked at 80 on the European Tour’s Race To Dubai, and retains status for his 2011 win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in 2011.

The Gary Player Country Club is the premier test of golf in Africa. The facility opened in 1979, and the 7,000-meter course is a par 72 layout, which has been the home of the Nedbank Challenge since 1981. The course is very long, but rated by the USGA as a fair test, and from the forward tees, remains a challenge for golfers of all skill levels.

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