Tshwane Open: Darren Fichardt leads the way after opening 65 in South Africa
Last Updated: March 1, 2013 10:59am
Darren Fichardt: Setting the pace in South Africa
Darren Fichardt continued his hot form by taking the first round lead in the inaugural Tshwane Open in South Africa.
Fichardt, who is bidding for his second consecutive European Tour title on home soil after winning the Africa Open a fortnight ago, carded a seven-under 65 to end the day a shot clear of compatriot Keith Horne and Sweden's Bjorn Akesson.
First round leaderboard
(Rsa unless stated)
-7 D Fichardt
-6 B Akesson (Swe)
-5 G Lockerbie (Eng)
-5 M Tullo (Chi)
-5 JM Singh (Ind)
-5 J Hugo
-5 D Howell (Eng)
-5 C Coetzee
Click here for collated scores
The South african started on the back nine and fired five birdies to turn in 31 before birdies on the first, 685-yard par five fourth and then the sixth took him to eight-under.
A solitary bogey at the seventh checked his progress slightly, but Fichardt was delighted with his display over the Ernie Els-designed layout.
"The swing is good and I'm putting well," he said. "This golf course is awesome - it's very fair."
Akesson, who teed off in one of the last groups of the day, joined Fichardt on seven-under after a birdie-birdie-eagle run at 13, 14 and 15. However, he bogeyed the 17th to finish one back.
Local man Jaco Ahlers also had the chance to match Fichardt after a chip-in eagle at the short par four 16th took him to six-under but he ended with an ugly double bogey to fall back into a big pack on four-under in tied ninth.
English pair David Howell and Gary Lockerbie, India's Jeev Milkha Singh, South Africans Jean Hugo and Charl Coetzee and Chilean Mark Tullo are all two adrift of Fichardt after signing for rounds of 67.
Former Open winner Darren Clarke is handily placed at three-under but two-time Masters champion and 2012 Ryder Cup winning skipper Jose Maria Olazabal is near the back of the field after a 76.