SOMERSET WEST (South Africa): Local favourite Jean Hugo carded a six-under par 66 to set the pace in the South African Open first round yesterday.
Hugo, a former South African amateur champion, fired a bogey free round to lead compatriots James Kingston and defending champion Tim Clark by one stroke.
But British duo Justin Rose and Lee Westwood struggled in the windy afternoon conditions, Rose shooting a level-par 72 and Westwood slumping to a three-over 75.
Five players, including Britons Andrew Coltart and Iain Pyman and Dutchman Rolf Muntz, were tied in fourth at four under par after a day when the heat and wind made low scoring difficult.
Hugo, who lost his European Tour card at the end of last season, fired six birdies, four coming at the par fives.
“I didn’t expect to play that well,” Hugo said. “It was quite blowy this morning and it was tough out there.
“You really had to look at where you wanted to land the ball. “It takes 15 or 20 foot just to get the ball to stop down wind so you really have to think about your shots.”
Clark, who plays his golf on the US PGA tour was also consistent with five birdies.
“I hit the ball well today, three of my birdie putts were from less than a foot,” said Clark who became only the second player in the history of the Open to pre-qualify and go on to win when he triumphed at the Durban Country Club in 2002.
“I don’t think being defending champion had any adverse effect on my golf although it’s nice to have my own parking space, last year they wouldn’t even let me in the clubhouse,” he joked.
Kingston was the only one of the three to tee off in the afternoon and had to battle in the worst of the conditions.
He had four birdies and an eagle with one bogey on the par three eighth. – Reuters