Dunlap Shares Lead at Nashua Masters

By Sports NetworkFebruary 5, 2004, 5:00 pm
Sunshine TourPORT EDWARD, South Africa-- American Scott Dunlap and South Africas Andrew McLardy both fired rounds of 7-under par 63 during the first round of the Nashua Masters at the Wild Coast Country Club on Thursday to take the early lead. The pair hold a one-stroke advantage over South African Craig Lile and Englands Andrew Butterfield who both carded 64s in unusually benign conditions at the par-70 layout.
 
Wind and hot, muggy weather are a feature of golf at the Wild Coast, but Thursday saw some of the most golf friendly conditions any of the players had witnessed at the event ' and the scores reflected it.
 
Temperatures were in the low 70s and the wind was almost non-existent.
 
Last season only winner Hennie Otto finished under par, but after the first round this year 65 players had posted scores of 1-under or better. Dunlap, the 40-year-old American who was a regular on the PGA Tour in the late 1990s, admitted that the course had been there for the taking.
 
I was able top capitalize on the conditions and I shot what I was supposed to shoot, Dunlap admitted. It was by far the best Ive played in a long time and I havent been able to say that much lately.
 
Dunlap had seven birdies on a bogey-free card while McLardy could have held the outright lead but for two bogeys on a card that included seven birdies and an eagle. He bogeyed the par-3 sixth and the par-5 16th after finding the water with his drive.
 
On 16 I tried to chop the corner with my driver because that leaves you an 8 or 9-iron in, but I came up short, McLardy said. It was poor mental management because I tried to play the hole from the tee instead of shot by shot.
 
Lile, who has been near the top of the leaderboard in each of this seasons three tournaments, enjoyed another happy day at a course he has never favored, posting six birdies in a bogey-free round.
 
The wind is the softest Ive ever played on this course, Lile said. Every year I try to put the whole tournament out of my head because Im not a big fan of the Wild Coast.
 
I putted really well today, that was the key to my round. You cant shoot 64 without putting well especially on this course.
 
Golf is golf and you cant really control winning, it is going to happen when it happens. If I just keep on playing the way I have been then who knows. I could keep playing like I have in the last few weeks and finish 20th or I could not play as well this week and win.
 
Seven players were grouped together at 5-under par 65 including big-hitting Titch Moore and the exciting 21-year-old Louis Oosthuizen while pre-tournament favorite Darren Fichardt carded a 3-under 67 to keep himself well in contention.
 
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