Fisher, Horne lead as McIl­roy stalks

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

SOUTH AFRICANS Trevor Fisher Jr and Keith Horne ended the first day of the BMW SA Open one shot clear of tour­na­ment favourite Rory McIl­roy on a per­fect day for golf in the East Rand of Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day.

McIl­roy and Fis­cher were in the early part of the draw and al­most 5 000 fans turned out to watch the world No 2 in ac­tion. But it was Fisher who took the early lead, with McIl­roy’s chance for the lead blown on the fi­nal hole as his putt stopped just short of the pin. Fisher signed for a six-un­der par 66, while McIl­roy signed a for 67 – seven birdies and two bo­gies – and five-way tie for sec­ond place.

South African’s Thomas Aiken, Dean Burmester and Jbe Kruger joined McIl­roy and Eng­land’s Jor­dan Smith on five-un­der par.

Co-leader Horne had a blis­ter­ing round in the af­ter­noon – three birdies on the front nine and four on the back nine, in­clud­ing two bo­gies.

“I re­ally en­joyed it out there to­day. I played well and it’s great to be in the mix af­ter the first round and to get a good start,” said Horn. “I lost con­cen­tra­tion on the 13th hole and I played the 15th re­ally badly but it was a wake-up call for the end of the round and thank­fully I man­aged to save it.”

“I hit my irons beau­ti­fully and I putted re­ally well, but I felt I strug­gled with my driver – I only hit four fair­ways. If I’m to stay in con­tention for the week­end, I need to sort that out.”

Ear­lier, Fisher was grate­ful for his stroke of luck on Thurs­day af­ter a hard fes­tive sea­son in which he worked on his game.

“I never re­ally took too much time off in De­cem­ber, af­ter hav­ing not such a good year last year,” said Fis­cher. “Yes­ter­day I found some­thing with my coach and it seems to have worked out. Old habits die hard so I just have to trust what I’m do­ing.”

But the big draw­card of the day re­mained McIl­roy, who en­thralled the crowds who turned up for him on Thurs­day. He was happy with the round, con­sid­er­ing there’s still three days to play.

“I started off with a solid run of pars and then made a nice run of birdies on the back nine,” said McIl­roy. “I prob­a­bly missed a few (chances at birdie) but I played well and it was a bit ad­ven­tur­ous on the back nine and I had to scram­ble to save a few. It was a good round.” The 27-year-old McIl­roy may be used to play­ing in front of thou­sands of fans, but not quite that early in the morn­ing.

“It’s great to tee off at 7.10am and have both sides of the tee lined all the way down the fair­way. “We are for­tu­nate to play in front of great crowds like this and hope­fully they can all turn out again to­mor­row.”

Two shots back from the lead, Eng­land’s Mark Fos­ter, SA’s Darren Fichardt, Eng­land’s Oliver Fisher and the Swedish duo of Jens Fahrbring and Alexan­der Bjork are stalk­ing the lead­ers Also in the field, Ernie Els signed for a two-over par 74 as did for­mer Proteas crick­eter Jo­han van der Wath. Sir Nick Faldo, how­ever, went four shots bet­ter as he signed for a two-un­der par 70.

Retief Goosen, mean­while, had a terri- ble time on the course as he only man­aged an eight-over par 80. On Fri­day, play gets un­der­way at 6.30am. Tick­ets are avail­able from Tick­et­pro and they start at R180. - su­pers­

Rory McIl­roy

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