Paul Lawrie Leads In South Africa

By Les Bailey
Paul Lawrie
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Birdies were at a premium on Friday afternoon in Sun City, South Africa. Paul Lawrie shoots a 69 to grab the lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City at the 7,800 meter monster known as the Gary Player Country Club. First round leaders American Bill Haas and Belgian superstar Nicolas Colsaerts fall behind as Lawrie, 2010 PGA Champion Martin Kaymer  and Francesco Molinari move up.

Coming down the stretch, Lawrie, Kaymer and Molinari were all tied, but Lawrie hit an exceptional approach shot at the 17th hole and would drop the 3 foot putt to take a one shot lead on the German. Kaymer had bogeys at the 8th and 9th hole and the golf course was not giving back many strokes on the day. Both players shot -3 under par 69’s with Lawrie getting to -4 under par. Kaymer, who started the day a shot back, ended a shot back at -3 under par.

Molinari birdied the first and 10th holes, but a bogey at three would only get him to -1 under par on the day and -1 under for the tournament in a four-way tie with Bill Haas and local boys Louis Oosthuizen, and Charl Schwartzel.

The greens were running a little over 11 on the Stimpmeter and with a light breeze, the golf course became very stingy. There were not many birdies out there. Bill Haas shot a – over par 73, beginning his day with a double bogey at the first whole. He hit his first driver of the day down the left side of the fairway into a bunker. With a lie that was above his feet, he clipped the top of the bunker and came out sideways. His third shot from 140 yards came up short. With bogeys at 7 and 9, Hass shot 40 on the front nine. He rebounded with a 33 on the back and escaped the mayhem losing only one shot to par.

Colsaerts had a horrible day. He picked up a double bogey at the par 5 second hole, and followed it with a triple at three, also shooting a 40 on the front nine. He picked his only birdie on the day at the ninth hole and unlike Haas, he gave two more shots away on the back nine. He shot 78 on the day and fell into a tie for 10th place with Garth Mulroy at -4 over par for the tournament.

Justin Rose had an even worse day. Rose shot 79 and ended up in last place with an +8 over par total. He had four bogeys and a double at the third hole. Rose was birdie-less on the day.

Two-time winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge Lee Westwood made birdie at the last hole to overcome a double bogey at 17, but ended his day signing for a +1 over par 72. He is alone in 7th place at even par for the tournament, one shot ahead of Peter Hansen in 8th place and Carl Pettersson in ninth place.

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