The Mercury

SA’s Horne leads in Wales Open debut


NEWPORT: South African journeyman Keith Horne led the Wales Open after shooting a seven-under 64 in the opening round yesterday, with defending champion Graeme McDowell trailing by three strokes at Celtic Manor.

Horne made birdies on five of the last eight holes in his Wales Open debut, his 100th tournament on the European Tour since 2000.

He turned pro at 25 and turns 40 next week. Horne secured his European Tour card last year and still seeks his first tour win, so he relished coming home in 30 shots on the links course.

“The golf course was playing as easy as it’s going to play,” said Horne, ranked 289.

“The front nine was pretty tough because it was a bit cold and the ball wasn’t going that far.

“Once it warmed up and once I started to warm up myself and make a few birdies, I actually really enjoyed the back nine.”

Ryder Cup player Peter Hanson was second after making four consecutiv­e birdies from No 14 in shooting a 65. The Swede was followed by English pair Steve Webster and Paul Broadhurst plus Alvaro Velasco of Spain, all of whom shot 66.

McDowell, Hanson’s playing partner, was next in a group of six. He eagled the 15th with a 30-foot putt.

Despite missing the cut at the BMW PGA Championsh­ip at Wentworth last week, he said he was mostly happy with his game. – Sapa-AP

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