Fisher, Horne lead as McIlroy stalks
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. - supersport.com