Matt Ford, Kevin Phelan share Africa Open lead
Englishman Matt Ford and Irishman Kevin Phelan shared the Africa Open first-round lead on 67 Thursday after taming blustery East London Golf Club conditions.
East London, South Africa: Englishman Matt Ford and Irishman Kevin Phelan shared the Africa Open first-round lead on 67 Thursday after taming blustery East London Golf Club conditions.
Phelan, joint second in the Joburg Open last weekend, collected six birdies over the 6,108-metre (6,679-yard) layout with his sole blemish a bogey five on 11.
Ford put unspectacular Joburg Open form -- a share of 43rd spot -- behind him to garner five birdies and did not drop a shot in the Indian Ocean town.
Phelan, ranked 368 in the world, and Ford, 397 places further back, are both chasing a first European Tour triumph in this co-sanctioned event with the Sunshine Tour.
Among five golfers one stroke off the pace on 68 are Englishmen Richard Bland, David Howell and John Parry.
Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva and South African Neil Schietekat were also four under after the opening round of a tournament whose seven previous winners were all South Africans.
Only two of the former title-holders, Shaun Norris (70) and Darren Fichardt (75), are in East London this week.
Englishmen Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tom Lewis were two strokes behind the leaders on 69 with South Africans Oliver Bekker, Tyrone Ferreira and Trevor Fisher junior and Frenchman Gregory Havret.
Andy Sullivan, winner of the South African Open in January and the Joburg Open last Sunday, had to settle for a par 72 after a seesaw round.
The continuously smiling 28-year-old native of English midlands town Nuneaton shot five birdies, but regularly blotted his card with five bogeys.
Sullivan will not be overly concerned at his modest start, though, as he also began the journey to Joburg Open glory with an even-par round
Darren Clarke, recently named captain of Europe for the 2016 Ryder Cup clash with the United States, also returned a 72 and his card included two birdies and two bogeys.
The Northern Irishman will want to avoid the embarrassment of a second successive early exit after missing the Joburg Open cut by five strokes.