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Woods starts Honda Classic in slow lane with 71

(Reuters) – Tiger Woods lamented inconsistent putting but it was his long game as much as his short stick that led to a mediocre one-over-par 71 in the first round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, on Thursday.

Woods, in just his third tournament of the year, said he had trouble adapting to the slow greens on a day when he was left trailing in the wake of leader Rory McIlroy, who shot a bogey-free 63.

“I hit it probably good enough to shoot at least three or four lower than I did,” the 14-times major champion told reporters after playing in relatively benign morning conditions at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

“First four holes, I had good looks (at birdie putts) and didn’t make any of them. I hit it good starting out, scrappy in the middle and good at the end.”

World number one Woods, who is playing the Honda Classic for only the third time as a professional, said he had misread several putts after being “fooled” by the speed and grain of the greens.

But the reality is he did not give himself many realistic birdie opportunities. He hit 12 greens in regulation, certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but had only four birdie chances inside 10 feet, three of which he converted.

Woods, who is tied for 81st in a field of 144, will probably need to break par in the second round on Friday to make the halfway cut.

He began his round on the back nine and negotiated that without too many problems, a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th putting him at one under by the turn.

It was not until the par-four second, his 11th hole of the day, that he finally had a blemish on his card.

After a poor drive, he barely advanced his second shot, found a bunker with his third and was unable to get up and down from there en route to an ugly six. He then offset two birdies with two bogeys to end the day at one over.

The Honda Classic signals the start of Woods’ serious preparation for the Apr. 10-13 Masters, and the greens at PGA National are vastly different to the slick, heavily contoured surfaces at Augusta National.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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Woods starts Honda Classic in slow lane with 71

McIlroy takes charge at Honda with opening 63

(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy produced a barnstorming back nine, charging home with five birdies, to take the first-round lead at the $6 million Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on Thursday.

A year after quitting the tournament mid-round with his game in a shambles, McIlroy cut a contrasting figure on his way to a flawless seven-under-par 63 in relatively benign afternoon conditions at PGA National.

“I made a great par save on nine which kept that bogey-free round alive,” the 24-year-old Northern Irishman told Golf Channel after seizing a one-shot lead over American Russell Henley.

Buoyed by that 10-foot par putt at the ninth, McIlroy birdied the next three holes and added further birdies on his last two holes, much to the delight of his parents Gerry and Rosie, who were in the gallery.

“It’s a good ball-striker’s course,” said McIlroy, who looked ominously close to regaining the form that made him the world’s top-ranked player at the time of his meltdown 12 months ago.

“If you can keep your ball in play and give yourself plenty of birdie chances, that’s the name of the game here.”

McIlroy’s sizzling start against the strongest field in the world so far this year overshadowed Australian Adam Scott, one of his playing partners on the day.

Not that Scott, gearing up to defend his Masters title in April, started badly as he opened with a 68 to sit five strokes off the pace.

However the Australian’s move up the leaderboard stalled when he drowned his tee shot at the par-three 15th, the first of three dangerous holes in a stretch known as the “Bear Trap”, in honour of course designer Jack Nicklaus.

INCONSISTENT WOODS

Five-times major champion Phil Mickelson did not do a lot wrong while carding a 70 in the afternoon while world number one Tiger Woods had an inconsistent 71 in the morning and ended the day tied for 81st in a field of 144.

Second-placed Henley started with four consecutive birdies and was five under through six holes but it was a par on his 12th hole, the par-five third, that most impressed.

He pulled his second shot, an “horrendous” six-iron that ended partly submerged in a water hazard, with a bunker between his ball and the hole.

Henley then removed his right shoe and sock and conjured up an outstanding third shot to inside 10 feet, only to miss the birdie putt.

“I’ve never had that shot in my life,” he said. “I tried to treat it like a bunker shot.”

Mickelson, meanwhile, was not at his best in his first competitive round as a professional on the course, but he sounded mildly satisfied.

“I did some things really well and some things poorly,” the American left-hander said, citing a need to improve his distance control with his irons.

“I’ve just got to get that fine-tuning down. It’s a very difficult course but when you hit good shots you get rewarded with good birdie opportunities.”

Fifty-six players broke par on a day when players were allowed preferred lies due to heavy pre-tournament rain that left the fairways damp.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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McIlroy takes charge at Honda with opening 63

McIlroy grabs PGA lead with sizzling 63

Palm Beach Gardens (United States) (AFP) – World number eight Rory McIlroy closed with back-to-back birdies to seize the lead after Thursday’s opening round of the $6 million US PGA Honda Classic with a bogey-free seven-under par 63.

The two-time major champion from Northern Ireland owned a one-stroke lead over American Russell Henley and a two-shot edge over South African Rory Sabbatini, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and American William McGirt after 18 holes.

“I played really solid,” McIlroy said. “It’s a good ball-strikers’ golf course. If you can really keep your ball in play and give yourself many birdie chances, that’s the name of the game here.”

McIlroy’s day was a sharp contrast to that of world number one Tiger Woods, who struggled to a 71, his fifth round in a row without cracking par at PGA National.

“I hit it good enough to shoot at least three or four lower than I did,” Woods said. “I had so many looks that I just missed. I hit good putts but I didn’t figure out the greens as well as I needed to. I need to read them a little better than I did.”

McIlroy’s 27-foot birdie putt at the second and a tap-in birdie at the par-5 third ensured a strong start.

After dropping a 10-foot par putt to close the front side, he sank an eight-foot birdie putt at 10 and followed with his longest birdie putt, a 45-foot effort at the 11th.

“Eleven is a hole, especially today with the wind into it off the right you just want to try and get out of there with a four,” McIlroy said. “I hit a pretty conservative second shot, but it was nice to be able to hole that putt.”

– Woods’ game not together –

After a six-foot birdie putt at 12 and a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th, McIlroy found a bunker with his approach at the last but blasted out to 4.5 feet and sank the concluding birdie putt.

“I didn’t hit a great second shot but I hit a really nice bunker shot there and I was able to finish with a birdie,” McIlroy said. “It’s a hole you want to take advantage of.”

Henley began his bogey-free day off the 10th tee and opened with four birdies in a row, then added others at the par-3 15th and fifth holes. He said finding the fairways was the key.

“Out here if you hit it in the fairway, it’s lift clean and place you can get a good lie and I started out with a really good drive and a really good 4-iron, so it was a nice way to start the day,” Henley said.

McIlroy, 24, won the Honda Classic in 2012 to capture the world number one ranking for the first time in his career.

But last year, McIlroy made a humbling withdrawal during his second round at the event, complaining of mental fatigue and a toothache. He later apologized and says he has learned a valuable lesson to play through tough times.

Difficult patches, meanwhile, continued to nag Woods, the 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus but winless in majors since the 2008 US Open.

Struggling to combine solid putting with accurate ball striking, Woods looked to be in a fight just to make the cut after making three birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.

“It was just one or the other, hit it good and miss the putt or scrap around and make a putt,” Woods said. “It certainly wasn’t together today.”

Reigning British Open champion Phil Mickelson fired a 70, with two birdies and a double bogey after taking the past two weeks off.

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McIlroy grabs PGA lead with sizzling 63

Tiger Woods to get Quicken Loans as new sponsor for his event, says report

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The PGA Tour is closing on a deal for Detroit-based Quicken Loans to become title sponsor of Tiger Woods’ tournament at Congressional, the Associated Press has learned.

Two people who have been told about the deal said Quicken Loans could begin its sponsorship before the next tournament, to be played June 26-29. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is not completed and has not been announced.

Dan Gilbert, who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, is the chairman and founder Quicken Loans.

It would be a big boost to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which receives the net proceeds from the event currently called the AT&T National. The foundation has created seven Tiger Woods Learning Centers, three of them in the Washington, D.C., area.

AT&T, in the final year of its contract, was not planning to renew the sponsorship. The Dallas-based company announced two years ago that it would sponsor the Byron Nelson Championship starting in 2015. AT&T already is under contract through 2024 as the title sponsor of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour. It also sponsors a Champions Tour event in San Antonio.

Greg McLaughlin announced Tuesday that he is leaving after 14 years as president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation. McLaughlin was the tournament director of the AT&T National and did well to keep AT&T on as title sponsor through 2014 after the upheaval in Woods’ personal life.

Woods had a personal endorsement deal with AT&T – the logo was on his golf bag – for nine months until the telecommunications giant cut him loose in December 2009.

NOT GOING ANYWHERE: Travelers renews its PGA Tour sponsorship for 10 years

McLaughlin and PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw declined comment Thursday, saying there was nothing to announce.

The title sponsorship would expand on the sports marketing programs of Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online home lender. The company closed $70 billion of volume across 50 states in 2012, with web centers in Detroit, Cleveland and the Phoenix area.

The company sponsors NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, and is involved in the IndyCar Series and with Team Penske. Quicken Loans is title sponsor of a Sprint Cup race in Brooklyn, Mich., on June 15, which is two weeks before the PGA Tour event at Congressional.

It announced late last year it would sponsor the Sprint Cup series race in Phoenix on Nov. 9.

The AT&T National began in 2007 with a military theme built around the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital. It has been held at Congressional for all but two years, in 2010 and 2011, as the course prepared to host the U.S. Open. In those years, it was played at Aronimink outside Philadelphia.

Congressional is under contract through 2014, though discussions are underway to host the tournament every other year.

Three tournaments benefit Woods’ foundation. The others are the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, which began in 2003 and now is part of the FedExCup playoffs. The other is the unofficial World Challenge, which announced last year it is moving from California to Isleworth, the club near Orlando where Woods once lived.

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Tiger Woods to get Quicken Loans as new sponsor for his event, says report

Travelers extends its sponsorship of PGA Tour event for another 10 years

HARTFORD, Conn. – The PGA Tour has received another long contract extension with The Travelers Companies announcing a 10-year extension as title sponsor.

The Travelers Championship is now signed through 2024.

Thursday’s agreement gives the tour seven tournaments that are under contract through at least 2019. Travelers and AT&T, which sponsors the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, both are signed for the next 10 years.

Travelers began as the title sponsor in 2007. The Connecticut-based company also extended its marketing deal with the tour as the official property casualty insurance provider through 2018.

The tournament will be played this year June 19-22 at TPC River Highlands. The defending champion is Ken Duke.

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Travelers extends its sponsorship of PGA Tour event for another 10 years

Woods rues eratic putting after carding a 71

(Reuters) – Tiger Woods lamented inconsistent putting after he battled to a one-over-par 71 that left him six strokes off the early lead in Thursday’s first round at the $6 million Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

While South African Rory Sabbatini and American William McGirt had few problems on the way to opening 65s, Woods, in just his third tournament of the year, said he had trouble adapting to the slow greens.

“I hit it probably good enough to shoot at least three or four lower than I did,” the 14-times major champion told reporters after playing in relatively benign morning conditions at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

“First four holes, I had good looks (at birdie putts) and didn’t make any of them. I hit it good starting out, scrappy in the middle and good at the end.”

World number one Woods, who is playing the Honda Classic for only the third time as a professional, said he had misread several putts after being “fooled” by the speed and grain of the greens.

He began his round on the back nine and negotiated that without too many problems, a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th putting him at one under by the turn.

It was not until the par-four second, his 11th hole of the day, that he finally had a blemish on his card.

After a poor drive, he had tree trouble with his second shot, found a bunker with his third and was unable to get up and down from there en route to an ugly six. He then offset two birdies with two bogeys to end the day at one over.

The Honda Classic signals the start of Woods’ serious preparation for the Apr. 10-13 Masters, and the greens at PGA National are vastly different to the slick, heavily contoured surfaces at Augusta National.

PUTTING TIPS

If Woods needed any putting tips after taking 30 strokes on the greens on Thursday, he needed look no further than at former Masters champion Zach Johnson, his playing partner on the day.

Johnson made a damaging start with a quadruple-bogey on his second hole, where he put two balls into a hazard guarding the green, but then displayed admirable patience and a positive attitude as he recovered to shoot a 67.

“It was easy to put that behind me,” said American Johnson, who clinched his 11th PGA Tour victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.

Johnson ended his day two strokes behind 2011 champion Sabbatini and McGirt.

“I gave myself some good opportunities and the putter was really good to me today,” South African Sabbatini told PGA Tour Radio.

“Anytime you come into this golf course and shoot under par you’re walking away a happy camper.”

McGirt had a tap-in birdie at the par-five third and what he described as “some good par-saves in the middle that kept the momentum going”.

The Honda Classic field is the strongest on the PGA Tour this year, though it is missing two former major winners in Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and England’s Justin Rose due to injury.

Oosthuizen, who clinched the 2010 British Open, pulled out on the eve of the tournament due to a lingering back problem while U.S. Open champion Rose is recovering from tendinitis in his right shoulder.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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Woods rues eratic putting after carding a 71

Golf-Woods rues eratic putting after carding a 71

Feb 27 (Reuters) – Tiger Woods lamented inconsistent putting after he battled to a one-over-par 71 that left him six strokes off the early lead in Thursday’s first round at the $6 million Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

While South African Rory Sabbatini and American William McGirt had few problems on the way to opening 65s, Woods, in just his third tournament of the year, said he had trouble adapting to the slow greens.

“I hit it probably good enough to shoot at least three or four lower than I did,” the 14-times major champion told reporters after playing in relatively benign morning conditions at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

“First four holes, I had good looks (at birdie putts) and didn’t make any of them. I hit it good starting out, scrappy in the middle and good at the end.”

World number one Woods, who is playing the Honda Classic for only the third time as a professional, said he had misread several putts after being “fooled” by the speed and grain of the greens.

He began his round on the back nine and negotiated that without too many problems, a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th putting him at one under by the turn.

It was not until the par-four second, his 11th hole of the day, that he finally had a blemish on his card.

After a poor drive, he had tree trouble with his second shot, found a bunker with his third and was unable to get up and down from there en route to an ugly six. He then offset two birdies with two bogeys to end the day at one over.

The Honda Classic signals the start of Woods’ serious preparation for the Apr. 10-13 Masters, and the greens at PGA National are vastly different to the slick, heavily contoured surfaces at Augusta National.

PUTTING TIPS

If Woods needed any putting tips after taking 30 strokes on the greens on Thursday, he needed look no further than at former Masters champion Zach Johnson, his playing partner on the day.

Johnson made a damaging start with a quadruple-bogey on his second hole, where he put two balls into a hazard guarding the green, but then displayed admirable patience and a positive attitude as he recovered to shoot a 67.

“It was easy to put that behind me,” said American Johnson, who clinched his 11th PGA Tour victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.

Johnson ended his day two strokes behind 2011 champion Sabbatini and McGirt.

“I gave myself some good opportunities and the putter was really good to me today,” South African Sabbatini told PGA Tour Radio.

“Anytime you come into this golf course and shoot under par you’re walking away a happy camper.”

McGirt had a tap-in birdie at the par-five third and what he described as “some good par-saves in the middle that kept the momentum going”.

The Honda Classic field is the strongest on the PGA Tour this year, though it is missing two former major winners in Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and England’s Justin Rose due to injury.

Oosthuizen, who clinched the 2010 British Open, pulled out on the eve of the tournament due to a lingering back problem while U.S. Open champion Rose is recovering from tendinitis in his right shoulder. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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Golf-Woods rues eratic putting after carding a 71

Tiger struggles to one-over start at PGA National

Palm Beach Gardens (United States) (AFP) – Struggling to read greens and combine solid putting with accurate ball striking, world number one Tiger Woods opened with a one-over par 71 Thursday at the US PGA Honda Classic.

The 38-year-old US star, a 14-time major winner chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, has now gone five consecutive rounds at PGA National without cracking par.

“It was just one or the other, hit it good and miss the putt or scrap around and make a putt,” Woods said. “It certainly wasn’t together today.”

Woods, who has not won a major since the 2008 US Open, captured five titles last year but has not played well in two events this year, failing to finish the weekend at Torrey Pines and sharing 41st at Dubai.

Starting on the back nine, Woods opened with eight pars before sinking a five-foot birdie putt at the 18th.

But at the par-4 second, Woods found dirt left of the fairway, then punched into the rough and found a greenside bunker with his third shot on the way to a double bogey.

Woods went up and down from a bunker at the par-5 fifth thanks to a five-foot birdie putt but missed a five footer for par at the fifth and a 10-foot par putt at the eighth for bogeys.

A nine-foot birdie putt at the ninth brought a pleasing finish to a tough day when greens were slower than Woods expected.

“I hit it good enough to shoot at least three or four lower than I did,” Woods said. “I had so many looks that I just missed. I hit good putts but I didn’t figure out the greens as well as I needed to. I need to read them a little better than I did.”

Woods, who lives nearby, shared second at the event in 2012 but could not break par in four rounds last year.

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Tiger struggles to one-over start at PGA National

Golf-European Tour Tshwane Open scores

Feb 27 (Infostrada Sports) – Scores from the European Tour Tshwane Open at the par-72 course on Thursday in Centurion

holes

played rounds

-7 Simon Dyson (Britain) 18 65

Trevor Fisher (South Africa) 16

-6 Jared Harvey (South Africa) 18 66

Ross Fisher (Britain) 18 66

Erik Van Rooyen (South Africa) 18 66

Darren Fichardt (South Africa) 17

Danie Van Tonder (South Africa) 17

-5 Lucas Bjerregaard (Denmark) 18 67

Chris Wood (Britain) 18 67

Shiv Kapur (India) 18 67

Morten Madsen (Denmark) 17

Kristoffer Broberg (Sweden) 15

Kevin Phelan (Ireland) 14

-4 Daan Huizing (Netherlands) 18 68

Magnus Carlsson (Sweden) 18 68

Shane Lowry (Ireland) 18 68

Anthony Wall (Britain) 18 68

Jean Hugo (South Africa) 18 68

Ricardo Santos (Portugal) 18 68

Carlos Del Moral (Spain) 18 68

Jacques Blaauw (South Africa) 18 68

Jake Roos (South Africa) 15

Maximilian Kieffer (Germany) 15

-3 Heinrich Bruiners (South Africa) 18 69

Ruan De Smidt (South Africa) 18 69

Jorge Campillo (Spain) 18 69

David Howell (Britain) 18 69

Michael Hoey (Britain) 18 69

Jack Doherty (Britain) 18 69

Brandon Pieters (South Africa) 18 69

Andy Sullivan (Britain) 18 69

Peter Whiteford (Britain) 18 69

Merrick Bremner (South Africa) 18 69

Thomas Aiken (South Africa) 17

James Morrison (Britain) 13

-2 Mark Foster (Britain) 18 70

Robert Rock (Britain) 18 70

Justin Harding (South Africa) 18 70

Toto Thimba (South Africa) 18 70

Tyrrell Hatton (Britain) 18 70

Christiaan Basson (South Africa) 18 70

Jbe Kruger (South Africa) 18 70

Haydn Porteous (South Africa) 18 70

George Coetzee (South Africa) 18 70

Adilson Da Silva (Brazil) 18 70

Mikko Korhonen (Finland) 18 70

Joel Sjoeholm (Sweden) 18 70

Soren Hansen (Denmark) 18 70

Adrian Otaegui (Spain) 18 70

Paul Waring (Britain) 18 70

Alejandro Canizares (Spain) 18 70

Gaganjeet Bhullar (India) 18 70

Oliver Bekker (South Africa) 18 70

Ignacio Elvira (Spain) 17

Edoardo Molinari (Italy) 15

Fredrik Andersson Hed (Sweden) 15

Graham Van der Merwe (South Africa) 15

-1 Bryce Easton (South Africa) 18 71

Shaun Norris (South Africa) 18 71

Doug McGuigan (South Africa) 18 71

Jaco Van Zyl (South Africa) 18 71

Hennie Otto (South Africa) 18 71

Warren Abery (South Africa) 18 71

James Kingston (South Africa) 18 71

Andrea Pavan (Italy) 18 71

Louis De Jager (South Africa) 18 71

CJ Du Plessis (South Africa) 18 71

Colin Nel (South Africa) 18 71

Pablo Martin (Spain) 18 71

Titch Moore (South Africa) 18 71

Vaughn Groenewald (South Africa) 18 71

PH McIntyre (South Africa) 17

Connor Arendell (U.S.) 17

Jaco Ahlers (South Africa) 17

Neil Schietekat (South Africa) 16

Jens Dantorp (Sweden) 16

Tjaart Van der Walt (South Africa) 14

Tyrone Mordt (South Africa) 14

0 Joachim Hansen (Denmark) 18 72

David Drysdale (Britain) 18 72

Andreas Harto (Denmark) 18 72

Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark) 18 72

Gregory Bourdy (France) 18 72

James Kamte (South Africa) 18 72

Daniel Brooks (Britain) 18 72

Thomas Pieters (Belgium) 18 72

Callum Mowat (South Africa) 18 72

Omar Sandys (South Africa) 18 72

Patrik Sjoeland (Sweden) 18 72

Andrew Curlewis (South Africa) 18 72

Alex Haindl (South Africa) 18 72

Jamie McLeary (Britain) 18 72

Keenan Davidse (South Africa) 18 72

Michael Jonzon (Sweden) 18 72

Lyle Rowe (South Africa) 18 72

Wallie Coetsee (South Africa) 18 72

Justin Walters (South Africa) 16

Tyrone Ferreira (South Africa) 15

Matthew Baldwin (Britain) 15

Graeme Storm (Britain) 14

Gert Myburgh (South Africa) 13

Brinson Paolini (U.S.) 13

Grant Veenstra (South Africa) 12

1 JJ Senekal (South Africa) 18 73

Dean Burmester (South Africa) 18 73

Charl Coetzee (South Africa) 18 73

Romain Wattel (France) 18 73

Tommy Fleetwood (Britain) 18 73

Marc Warren (Britain) 18 73

Ulrich Van den Berg (South Africa) 18 73

Allan Versfeld (South Africa) 18 73

Michael Hollick (South Africa) 18 73

Alan McLean (Britain) 18 73

Michiel Bothma (South Africa) 18 73

Chris Swanepoel (South Africa) 17

Niclas Fasth (Sweden) 17

Richard Bland (Britain) 17

Oliver Fisher (Britain) 16

Ross McGowan (Britain) 14

Peter Lawrie (Ireland) 14

Francois Calmels (France) 14

Tyrone Ryan (South Africa) 12

2 Damien McGrane (Ireland) 18 74

Hendrik Buhrmann (South Africa) 18 74

Eddie Pepperell (Britain) 18 74

Chris Doak (Britain) 18 74

Garrick Porteous (Britain) 18 74

Divan Van den Heever (South Africa) 18 74

Keith Horne (South Africa) 18 74

Simon Wakefield (Britain) 18 74

Johan Carlsson (Sweden) 18 74

James Heath (Britain) 17

Estanislao Goya (Argentina) 16

Martin Du Toit (South Africa) 16

Lindani Ndwandwe (South Africa) 15

Ryan Cairns (Zimbabwe) 14

Ryan Strauss (South Africa) 13

Sam Walker (Britain) 13

Morne Buys (South Africa) 12

3 Peter Karmis (South Africa) 18 75

Gareth Maybin (Britain) 18 75

Roberto Lupini (South Africa) 18 75

Jose-Filipe Lima (Portugal) 18 75

Gregory Havret (France) 16

4 Scott Jamieson (Britain) 18 76

Dylan Frittelli (South Africa) 18 76

Grant Muller (South Africa) 18 76

Robert Dinwiddie (Britain) 18 76

Mikael Lundberg (Sweden) 18 76

5 Dawie Van der Walt (South Africa) 16

Stuart Manley (Britain) 14

Nic Henning (South Africa) 13

11 Yubin Jung (South Africa) 18 83

Sipho Bujela (South Africa) 18 83

0 WDW Danny Willett (Britain)

1 WDW Mikhail Tewary (South Africa)

TOP10 AFTER COMPLETE ROUND

-7 Simon Dyson (Britain) 65

-6 Jared Harvey (South Africa) 66

Ross Fisher (Britain) 66

Erik Van Rooyen (South Africa) 66

-5 Lucas Bjerregaard (Denmark) 67

Chris Wood (Britain) 67

Shiv Kapur (India) 67

-4 Daan Huizing (Netherlands) 68

Magnus Carlsson (Sweden) 68

Shane Lowry (Ireland) 68

Anthony Wall (Britain) 68

Jean Hugo (South Africa) 68

Ricardo Santos (Portugal) 68

Carlos Del Moral (Spain) 68

Jacques Blaauw (South Africa) 68

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Golf-European Tour Tshwane Open scores

Dyson leads Tshwane Open after play suspended

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Englishman Simon Dyson closed with birdies on his final four holes on Thursday to card a seven-under-par 65 and take the first-round clubhouse lead in the European Tour’s Tshwane Open.

When play was suspended due to the threat of lightning, South African Trevor Fisher junior was also on seven under after 16 and will complete his final two holes on Friday morning.

“It’s a lovely start. It’s my lowest round in a good few years, especially on the first day,” Dyson said.

“It just puts you in a nice frame of mind, a good stead, and sets it up nicely to have a good weekend.”

There are five players a shot back including four-times European Tour winner Darren Fichardt. South Africans have won 10 of the last 13 European Tour events on home soil.

England’s Ross Fisher, who has not won since 2010, is also on six under.

Dyson says improvement with the putter was key to his first-round success.

“Putting has been the letdown for the last few weeks, but me and my caddie had a chat about what I’m doing wrong. We spent about an hour and a half on the putting green yesterday and I managed to get a good feel for it,” Dyson said.

“I holed a good six-footer for par at the first and then about a 40-footer for birdie at the second and that was it, I was off and running.”

Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate is the longest course in European Tour history. It has four par-five holes, including the monstrous 685-yard fourth.

Last year’s winner Dawie van der Walt carded a 21-under-par total of 267. He is currently one under after 14 holes.

(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Robert Woodward;

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Dyson leads Tshwane Open after play suspended

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