Jamieson pleased with ‘great start’ as Wies­berger sets pace in Sun City

● Scot opens with 69 in South Africa ● Dry­burgh out to main­tain her form

The Scotsman - - Sports Digest - By MARTIN DEMP­STER

Scott Jamieson, who only just scraped into the 72-man field for the penul­ti­mate event of the sea­son, got off to a “great start” in the Nedbank Golf Chal­lenge as an­other of the tough­est tracks on the Euro­pean Tour again brought out the best in him.

Three weeks after ty­ing for sixth be­hind host ser­gio gar­cia in the An­dalu­cia Valder­rama Masters, the Glaswe­gian marked his de­but on the Gary Player Coun­try Club course in Sun City with a splen­did four un­der-par 68 in the $7.5 mil­lion Rolex Se­ries event.

Jamieson, who carded six birdies, shared the club­house lead with French­man Vic­tor Dubuis­son, South African Bran­den Grace and Amer­i­can Ju­lian Suri be­fore Aus­trian Bernd Wies­berger came home in 31 for a 67 to set the first-round pace.

“It was a bit of mixed bag, re­ally,” said Jamieson of his ef­fort. “I didn’t play the par5s par­tic­u­larly well un­til the ninth, our last hole. It was nice to make a birdie there be­cause you want to be un­der par on par-5s, es­pe­cially here when you can reach most of them.”

The 33-year-old is no stranger to play­ing golf in South Africa, hav­ing won the Nel­son Man­dela Cham­pi­onship at Royal Dur­ban, but this is his ini­tial visit to Sun City, which sits to the north-west of Jo­han­nes­burg. “It’s my first time here and I love it,” he added. “It is very sim­i­lar to Leop­ard Creek. I think it is vis­ually in­tim­i­dat­ing off the tee. But, when you get up the fair­way, there’s maybe a bit more room than you think.

“I also don’t think the rough is as bad as the guys said it was last year.”

Sit­ting 75th in the Race to Dubai, Jamieson, who is set to com­mute to Euro­pean Tour events next sea­son from a new home in Florida, was the third-last player into this event. He trails 60th-placed Gre­gory Bourdy by 78,164 points, so needs a top-15 fin­ish to have any chance of get­ting into next week’s DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship in Dubai.

“Nah, I wish I knew the an­swer to th­ese ques­tions,” he replied to be­ing asked on Sky Sports if some­thing had clicked in his game in Spain and con­tin­ued on to this event.

“If I did, we could be up there ev­ery week. Spain was good. My iron play was re­ally good there. I didn’t drive it well the first two rounds last week in Tur­key. I then played well over the week­end but just didn’t get it go­ing, so to­day was a great start.”

On a day when Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleet­wood had to set­tle for a 73, leav­ing him in a tie for 39th as he bids to take ad­van­tage of clos­est chal­lenger Justin Rose sit­ting out this event, Wies­berger pro­duced the sort of form that is re­spon­si­ble for him be­ing quoted among the con­tenders for next year’s Ry­der Cup in France.

“It wasn’t easy, to be hon­est, as it was quite breezy,” said the four-time Euro­pean Tour win­ner after sign­ing for eight birdies, six of which came on the back nine. “But I played all right. I did not had great suc­cess when I was here last time, but I ap­proached it with a neu­tral mind and I played a lot bet­ter than I have the last cou­ple of weeks and putted good.”

Marc War­ren was next best among five Scots in the field on 71, fol­lowed by David Drys­dale (72), Richie Ram­say (73) and Stephen Gal­lacher (74). The lat­ter was a shot off the lead after get­ting to three-un­der fol­low­ing three straight birdies around the turn be­fore cov­er­ing his last seven holes in five-over.

Else­where, on-form Gemma Dry­burgh leads seven Scots into bat­tle in the Hero Women’s In­dian Open at DLF Golf & Coun­try Club in Gur­gaon. The Aber­do­nian recorded a top-10 fin­ish in last week’s LET event in Abu Dhabi, back­ing up her re­cent suc­cess in mak­ing it through to the LPGA Qual­i­fy­ing School fi­nal.

Join­ing Dry­burgh in an event that sees home player Aditi Ashok de­fend the ti­tle on the back of win­ning the Fa­tima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in the UAE last week­end, are Vikki Laing, Kylie Henry, Carly Booth, Pamela Pretswell Asher, Kelsey Macdon­ald and Michele Thom­son.

0 Scott Jamieson opened with a four-un­der-par 68 in the Nedbank Golf Chal­lenge in South Africa.

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