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Schwartzel four back of record-tying countryman

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JOHANNESBURG – Merrick Bremner of South Africa birdied six of his first nine holes, shooting an 8-under 64 Thursday to tie the course record in the opening round of the South African Open.

He's two shots ahead of Sweden's Henrik Stenson and South Africa's Matthew Carvell at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel recovered from a double-bogey 5 on his third hole at the 12th for a 68. Martin Kaymer shot 70, while Branden Grace was even par.

The 26-year-old Bremner consolidated his outstanding 30 with two more birdies on the back nine. His bogey-free round raised hopes of a first European Tour title at his home event.

''I played fantastically on the first nine,'' he said. ''I didn't miss a green and there was only one chance that I missed that was makeable, and that was on 15. But in theory, I could have shot 28 on the first nine.''

Craig Lee and Alex Haindl each shot a 67 to trail by three strokes.

After his struggles on No. 12, Schwartzel returned to the form that landed him the 2011 title at Augusta National. He had a chip on No. 2 to set up one of his six birdies and didn't drop any more shots.

Kaymer double-bogeyed his first hole on his South African Open debut – calling it a ''bit of a shocker'' – but picked himself up with four birdies.

Grace, enjoying a breakthrough season since winning back his tour card for 2012, could only manage three birdies, plus a bogey and double on his back nine. Defending champion Hennie Otto shot 71 and amateur Terence Boardman made a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th and finished with a 74.

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