Sunshine Tour

Wilco Nienaber, Shaun Norris take Joburg Open lead

South African golfer Wilco Nienaber
South African golfer Wilco Nienaber
Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images
  • South African golfers Wilco Nienaber and Shaun Norris have grabbed the share of the lead in the opening round of the Joburg Open.
  • This year's event has changed venue and will be contested at Randpark Golf Club, with a prize fund of R19.5 million.
  • The duo has a one-shot lead over American Johannes Veerman in the behind-closed-doors European Tour event.

International golf returned to South Africa with Thursday's opening round of the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club.

156 golfers teed off in the first of three tournaments in SA, which are co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Sunshine Tour.

Local stars Wilco Nienaber and Shaun Norris shot opening rounds of 63 to share the lead at the behind-closed-doors event.

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Former SA No-1 ranked amateur Nienaber made an eagle, nine birdies and three bogeys to end the day on 8-under.

Nienaber has been on the European Tour since August, playing in 10 events with two Top 10s, which include a fourth-place finish at the English Championship.

"It was good, eight-under is nice on any golf course and to do it in the first round of the Joburg Open and being back at home is great," said Nienaber following his round.

"It is nice coming back to a course that I've played before and I've got a little knowledge so it's nice to use that."

Fellow countryman Norris was in fine touch on Thursday when he carded a bogey-free round to share the lead with Nienaber.

"I'm very pleased, a bogey-free round you can never be unhappy about it," said Norris after his round, which included an eagle and six birdies.

"I've been hitting the ball nicely for a couple of months now so it's been good. I've been enjoying a couple of weeks at home now, playing my home course and putting in some low scores there to build my confidence," said Norris.

Norris, who is ranked 111th on the world golf rankings, stated that he has a clear game plan to tackle Randpark Golf Club.

"I wasn't going to overpower it (the course) but I had a sound game plan set to know when to attack and when to back off," said Norris.

American Johannes Veerman and Canadian Aaron Cockerill are both one shot behind the South African duo on 7-under.

South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who is the highest-ranked golfer in the field, shot 68 to finish at 3-under.

Featured Round 2 tee times:

06:50* - Johannes Veerman, Thriston Lawrence, Oliver Wilson

07:20* - Steven Brown, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Neil Schietekat

07:50 - Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, James Hart du Preez, Louis Albertse

12:00 - Wilco Nienaber, Andrea Pavan, Joost Luiten 

12:00* - Alex Haindl, Thabiso Ngcobo, Rhys Enoch

12:30 - Darren Fichardt, Garrick Higgo, Joachim B. Hansen

*10th tee

- Compiled by Lynn Butler

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