East London: India`s SSP Chowrasia, hoping for a good start to the new season on the European Tour, messed up his back nine and finished at
two-over 74 in the first round of the Africa Open, which is the first event of 2011 on the European Tour.
After negotiating the first eight holes of the par-73 East London Golf Club course with one birdie on the sixth and one bogey on the fifth, Chowrasia birdied the ninth. Interestingly, the backstretch at the course at East London starts at the ninth where Chowrasia had a birdie.
The Indian, whose sole win in the European Tour came at home in 2008, had another birdie on 11th to be two-under. He stayed there till running into a hat-trick of bogeys from 15th to 17th and finished at 74 to be tied 88th.
Chowrasia, who has a limited card on European Tour, is the lone Indian at the Africa Open.
South African Brandon Pieters rode on a run of five birdies in a row to shoot a seven-under 66 and take a one-shot lead over fellow South Africans, Branden Grace and Jaco Van Zyl, Frenchman Jean Baptiste Gonnet, Swede Frederik Ohlsson and Englishman Miles Tunnicliff, who came on a sponsor`s exemption.
Defending champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland were both at four-under 69 and the 2010 Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, also of South Africa was at three-under 70.