herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Henning leads way in Joburg Open

SOUTH AFRICA'S Nic Henning claimed a narrow lead after the opening round of the Joburg Open as home players dominated the top of the leaderboard at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Henning carding a nine-under-par 62 on the West Course - equalling the course record - to finish one shot ahead of compatriots Titch Moore and Tjaart van der Walt, as well as Belgium's Thomas Pieters.

Dean Burmester and Garth Mulroy were a shot further back on seven under to make it five South Africans in the top seven, with Scotland's Scott Henry and English pair Sam Hutsby and Simon Dyson part of an eight-strong group on six under.

Henning has the worst world ranking possible, joint 1,555th, and admitted: "I haven't made a score like that for many many years so it's a really nice surprise." The 45-year-old raced to the turn in 29 with five birdies and an eagle and also birdied the 15th and 16th, but added: "Let me tell the truth; I hit my second at the first thin but it was straight at the hole, I holed a nice putt on the second and was lucky with a seven iron on the third, it went straight in the hole."

In total 113 players broke par, but European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke had to birdie the last two holes for a level-par 72 on the East Course after a front nine of 39 which featured four birdies, two double bogeys, two bogeys and just one par.

Clarke has not recorded a top-10 finish on the European Tour since winning the Open Championship in 2011.

Of the other Irish Peter Lawrie is best placed on five under after a 66, with Kevin Phelan four under, and Gareth Maybin three under.

GOLF

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