Otto, Rowe breeze into the lead

Pair han­dle the strong Cape wind to shoot 66

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - GOLF RE­PORTER

EN­NIE Otto and Lyle Rowe shared the first round lead on six-un­der-par 66 yes­ter­day in the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open at Royal Cape.

“To shoot six-un­der in the first round is al­ways good and I’ll take that score any day. The key for Cape Town, and for coastal golf, is to man­age the wind ef­fec­tively,” Otto said.

The three-time Euro­pean Tour win­ner fin­ished 21st in the DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship one week ago and con­tin­ued to im­press yes­ter­day when he carded 33 on ei­ther side of the turn.

“We’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion and I’m play­ing well, so I’ll try to keep up the good work,” said Otto.

“The breeze came up a bit, but I played well and made some cru­cial putts out there.”

The 38-year-old was acutely aware that the win­ner of this week’s R1,5-mil­lion tour­na­ment also gets a spot at the up­com­ing Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge. The ex­tra in­cen­tive has drawn big names to the Mother City, but of the Euro­pean Tour stars it was Otto who stood out on day one.

“This is the end of our year and we haven’t had a break yet. We’ve gone 14 weeks, but the op­por­tu­nity to win the mil­lion dol­lar is very ex­cit­ing. You al­ways watch it on TV and now you’ve got an op­por­tu­nity to play it. Ev­ery­one has a chance to get there,” he said.

Rowe, who like Otto played in the morn­ing, rat­tled off five birdies in a row on the front stretch, which was his sec­ond nine, and set the tar­get at six-un­der. The 27-year-old comes from Port El­iz­a­beth and was able to ne­go­ti­ate the blus­tery con­di­tions of the Western Cape in style.

He shot 69 dur­ing the first round in Cape Town last year, but

Hfell away over the next 54 holes. He’ll look to amend for those mis­takes by con­tin­u­ing to score over the com­ing three days. “It’s very nice to get a de­cent round un­der­way. It’s the first day of a big event and it helps ease things go­ing for­ward into the rest of the tour­na­ment.”

Titch Moore, mean­while, rode the af­ter­noon winds en route to a share of sec­ond on 67 with Bran­don Stone, Danie van Ton­der, Michael Hol­lick, Omar Sandys, Adrian Ford and Eng­land’s Jeff Inglis.

“The greens are a lit­tle bit soft, but it’s the same for every­body. All-in-all the course is set up beau­ti­fully. This af­ter­noon was tricky and the wind swirled a lot, but I’m from the coast, so I can’t re­ally com­plain about the wind too much,” Moore said.

The Port El­iz­a­beth lo­cal is ac­cus­tomed to coastal wind and won the Sun Board­walk Golf Chal­lenge in blus­tery con­di­tions ear­lier this year.

His his­tory at Royal Cape is also no­table and in 2000 he came painfully close to win­ning the Vodacom Play­ers’ Cham­pi­onship at the old­est course in Africa.

“I’ve played nicely here in the past and I had the lead go­ing into the fi­nal round of the Play­ers Cham­pi­onship in 2000. I was three shots ahead of Trevor Im­mel­man and six shots ahead of Ernie Els, those two were my near­est com­peti­tors. Trevor man­aged to win and I tied for sec­ond place with Ernie … that was 14 years ago,” he said.

Moore’s 67 came up just short of the fron­trun­ners, but his two wins this sea­son in­di­cate just how ready he is to con­tend.

“I won the Telkom Business PGA Cham­pi­onship at the be­gin­ning of the year and to fin­ish off the sea­son by win­ning some­thing as pres­ti­gious as this would be un­be­liev­able,” he said.


EYE­ING UP ANOTHER BIRDIE: Hen­nie Otto shot 66 to be tied for the first round lead at the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club yes­ter­day.

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