Wilco Nienaber puts on the power to take share of Joburg Open lead

Fellow South African Shaun Norris also cards an eight-under 63

 South Africa’s Wilco Nienaber in action during the first round of the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

South Africa’s Wilco Nienaber in action during the first round of the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

South Africa’s Wilco Nienaber powered his way into a share of the lead with the aid of a 439-yard drive on day one of the Joburg Open.

Nienaber fired an eagle, eight birdies and two bogeys in an opening eight-under-par 63 to join compatriot Shaun Norris at the top of the leaderboard at Randpark Golf Club.

American Johannes Veerman and Canada’s Aaron Cockerill were a shot off the lead following rounds of 64, with Welshman Rhys Enoch and England’s Richard McEvoy part of a five-strong group on six under.

Nienaber, who won the 2019 South African Amateur Championship before turning professional last year, started his round on the back nine with a par on the 10th, but did not make another until reaching the turn.

After making a birdie on the 11th, Nienaber followed an eagle on the 12th with birdies on the 13th and 14th before dropping shots on the next two holes.

Birdies on the 17th and 18th took Nienaber to the turn in 31 and he parred the first and second before picking up further shots on the third and fourth, the latter coming after a tee shot of 439 yards on the downhill par five.

There was more big hitting to come on Nienaber’s final hole of the day, the 20-year-old driving the green on the 381-yard ninth to set up a closing birdie.

“Eight under is nice around any golf course and to do it here in the first round of the Joburg Open, being back home again, is great,” Nienaber said.

“I haven’t played much in South Africa since I turned pro but it’s been great to be home. I’m just looking forward to the next three days and the next two weeks after.”

Enoch carded an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys in his 65, despite occasionally taking a somewhat unorthodox route.

“I didn’t feel perfect on the range and I hit a few ropey ones, but I figured it out and hit a really good shot into 12 after hitting a terrible drive onto the third fairway,” Enoch said.

“I hit an unbelievable three iron onto the green and had a long two-putt for birdie which settled me a bit, then I went birdie-eagle on 13 and 14 and played nicely coming in. I feel really pleased.”

The Northern Ireland duo of Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin both carded two-under-par rounds of 69 to lie in a share of 35th position after the first round.

Caldwell made five birdies in his round but also recorded three bogeys, while Sharvin’s card mixed four birdies with to dropped shots.

India’s Shubhankar Sharma, who won the event the last time it was staged on the European Tour in 2017, carded an opening 76 which included a nine on the par-five 12th.

Meanwhile, Shane Lowry recorded a hat-trick of birdies to close his first round at The RSM Classic in Sea Island, Georgia on Thursday.

His three-under 67 left the Clara man two shots off the early clubhouse lead after his round on the Seaside layout, one of two courses being used for the event.

Leaderboard

British and Irish unless stated, par 71, (a) denotes amateur

63 Shaun Norris (Rsa), Wilco Nienaber (Rsa)

64 Johannes Veerman (USA), Aaron Cockerill (Can)

65 Adilson Da Silva (Bra), Richard McEvoy, Rhys Enoch, Benjamin Follet-Smith (Zim), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp)

66 David Law, Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Jacques Blaauw (Rsa), Julian Suri (USA), Marcel Siem (Ger), Gavin Green (Mal), Oliver Farr

67 Richard Bland, Lorenzo Scalise (Ita), Deon Germishuys (a) (Rsa), Jayden Trey Schaper (Rsa), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Steve Surry, Scott Jamieson

68 Niklas Lemke (Swe), (a) Malcolm Mitchell (Rsa), Estiaan Conradie (Rsa), Romain Wattel (Fra), Jake Redman (Rsa), Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Jack Senior, Jaco Prinsloo (Rsa), Louis De Jager (Rsa)

69 Marcus Armitage, Matthew Jordan, James Kingston (Rsa), Neil Schietekat (Rsa), Chase Hanna (USA), Daan Huizing (Ned), Ockie Strydom (Rsa), Joel Sjoholm (Swe), Dale Whitnell, Ryan Lumsden, Bryce Easton (Rsa), Jonathan Caldwell, Adrian Otaegui (Esp), Cormac Sharvin, Anton Haig (Rsa), Hennie Otto (Rsa), Keenan Davidse (Rsa), Martin Rohwer (Rsa), Zander Lombard (Rsa), Ruan Ger Smidt (Rsa), Daniel Van Tonder (Rsa), Christiaan Basson (Rsa), MJ Viljoen (Rsa), Yi-Keun Chang (Kor), Antoine Rozner (Fra), Scott Vincent (Zim)

70 (a) Louis Albertse (Rsa), Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), Brandon Stone (Rsa), Heinrich Bruiners (Rsa), Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa), Ruan Korb (Rsa), Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Lars Van Meijel (Ned), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Oliver Bekker (Rsa), Andre Ger Decker (Rsa), Thriston Lawrence (Rsa), Darius Van Driel (Ned), Peetie Van Der Merwe (Rsa), Richard Sterne (Rsa)

71 Steven Brown, Andre Nel (Rsa), Toto Thimba Jnr (Rsa), Benjamin Poke (Den), Jack Harrison, Robin Roussel (Fra), Hennie Du Plessis (Rsa), David Drysdale, James Du Preez (a) (Rsa), Daniel Greene (Rsa), Keith Horne (Rsa), Luke Jerling (Rsa), Ewan Ferguson

72 Nikhil Rama (Rsa), Garrick Porteous, Grant Forrest, Callum Mowat (Rsa), Emilio Cuartero Blanco (Esp), Jean-Paul Strydom (Rsa), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa), Dean Burmester (Rsa), Peter Karmis (Rsa), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Trevor Fisher Jnr (Rsa), (a) Dylan Naidoo (Rsa), JC Ritchie (Rsa), Toby Tree, Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Jake Roos (Rsa), Pedro Figueiredo (Por), Ricardo Santos (Por), Ross McGowan, Matthew Spacey (Rsa)

73 Riekus Nortje (Rsa), Anthony Michael (Rsa), Oliver Wilson, Philip Eriksson (Swe), Richard Joubert (Rsa), Oliver Fisher, Scott Hend (Aus), Sean Crocker (USA), Desne Van Den Bergh (Rsa), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Jaco Ahlers (Rsa), MJ Daffue (Rsa), Breyten Meyer (Rsa), Lee Slattery, Joe Long, Hayden Griffiths (Rsa), Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Justin Walters (Rsa), Ruan Conradie (Rsa), Alexander Levy (Fra)

74 Wil Besseling (Ned), Janne Kaske (Fin), Jack Floydd, Joost Luiten (Ned), Thabiso Ngcobo (Rsa), JJ Senekal (Rsa), Stephen Ferreira (Por), Allister Ger Kock (Rsa)

75 Adri Arnaus (Esp), Sam Broadhurst, Adrian Meronk (Pol), Rourke Van Der Spuy (Rsa), David Dixon, Colin Nel (Rsa), CJ Du Plessis (Rsa), Matias Calderon (Chi)

76 Merrick Bremner (Rsa), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Adriel Poonan (Rsa), Evance Vukeya (Rsa), Thanda Mavundla (Rsa)

77 Adrien Saddier (Fra), Makhetha Mazibuko (Rsa), Nicolai Hojgaard (Den), Jean Hugo (Rsa)

78 Michael G Palmer (Rsa)

79 Alex Haindl (Rsa)

83 Andrea Pavan (Ita)

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