Davison signed for a round of 4-under-par 68 at the Lost City Golf Club to lead by one over the trio of German Sven Struver, Jean Hugo and Chris Williams, who also all played the Lost City course on Thursday. The first two rounds of the tournament are played on both the Lost City and Gary Player Country Club courses, with the final two rounds played solely at the Gary Player Country Club course.
But on a day when both courses took their toll on the field, the Lost City layout yielded far more easily than Gary Players other collection of fairways down the road. The leading score there was 2-under-par 70, held by a collection of players including Nick Price, twice a winner of this event.
Nicholas Lawrence crumbled to an 11 on the par-5 18th, which traditionally plays as the ninth but the nines have been switched for this event, and Lebo Ramukosi signed for a 12 on the same hole. Veteran professionals Nico van Rensburg and Justin Hobday were other more surprising victims of the Gary Player Country Club course.
Van Rensburg, who was in contention for the South African Airways Open, signed for a first round of 82, while Hobday carded an uncharacteristic 85 including a back nine of 48. Only 15 players managed to break par on Thursday. Of those, only five came from the Gary Player Country Club course.
But thats not to say it was a walk in the park for the likes of Davison and company at the Lost City course. If you miss the fairways here, weve got a golf competition on our hands because the ball just disappears in the kikuyu. If youd offered me a 68 at 5:30 this morning, I would have gladly taken it, Davison said. The greens were a bit slow which will make things tough on us in the second round because we go from these slow greens to the much quicker ones at the Gary Player Country Club for the second round.
Davison, who last week claimed a hole-in-one during the dunhill championship at Houghton, came close to two holes-in-one during his round on Thursday. At the par-3 13th Davisons 7-iron pitched once and hit the back of the cup, rolling back to 12 feet from where he made birdie. He used the same club on the par-3 15th, with the ball finishing inches form the cup for a tap-in birdie there.
Im going to have to re-grip that club I used it so much today, said Davison, whose last and only win on the Tour since 1994 was in the 1999 Vodacom Players Championship at Royal Durban Golf Club.
Rd. 1 Scores:
68 - Chris Davison
69 - Sven Struver (GER), Chris Williams (ENG), Jean Hugo
70 - Joachim Backstrom (SWE), Albert Kruger, Brett Liddle, Callie Swart, Nick Price, Grant Muller
71 - Adilson da Silva (BRA), David Frost, Warrick Druian, Omar Sandys, Bradford Vaughan
72 - Alan Michell, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Darren Fichardt, Etienne Bond, Andr Bossert (SUI), Mark Mouland (WAL), Doug McGuigan (SCO), Andrew McLardy, Louis Oosthuizen, Keith Horne, Andrew Butterfield (ENG)
73 - Scott Dunlap (USA), Wickus Myburgh, Marco Gortana, Bobby Lincoln, Dean van Staden, Steve van Vuuren, Ben Mason (ENG), Dijon Tintinger; Sean Ludgater, Titch Moore, Wallie Coetsee, Stuart Manley (WAL), Bruce Vaughan, Michiel Bothma
74 - Kevin Stone, Alan McLean (SCO), Vaughn Groenewald, Robbie Stewart, Gerlou Roux, Johan Edfors (SWE), Divan van den Heever, James Hepworth (ENG), David Dixon (ENG), John Mashego, Shaun Norris, Henk Alberts, Craig Lile, Niki Ferrari (GER)
75 - Derek Crawford (SCO), Simon Hurd (ENG), Obed Sithole, Mawonga Nomwa, Shane Pringle (ZIM), William Morgan (ENG), Thomas Aiken, Roger Wessels, Ulrich van den Berg, Sandeep Grewel (ENG), Nikki Zitny (AUT), Richard Mudd (US), Mike Michel
76 - Schalk van der Merwe (NAM), Dougie McCabe, Nico Le Grange, James Kamte, Mike Lamb (ZIM), Cliffie Howes, Andr Cruse, David Carter (ENG), Ian Palmer, Desvonde Botes, Ciaran McMonagle (IRL), Ryan Reid, Mark Murless, Makhosonke Mlotshwa, Steve Basson, Lindani Ndwandwe, Richard Sterne, Michael Kirk, Joseph Daley (US), Bafana Hlophe, Barry Painting (ZIM)
77 - Steven Waltman, Michael Scholz, Anil Shah (KEN), Gary Thain, Travis Frazer (ZIM), Lee Slattery (ENG), Colm Moriarty (IRE), Des Terblanche, Nicolas Lawrence, Sean Farrell (ZIM), Marc Cayeux (ZIM), Bradley Davison, Ian Kennedy, Ian Hutchings, Nic Henning, Deon Fourie
78 - John Bele, Jeff Inglis (ENG), Sammy Daniels, Jean van Zuydan, Thabang Simon
79 - Lewis Atkinson (ENG), Johan Geldenhuys, Brandon Pieters, Alexander Mogridge, Tyrol Auret, Clinton Whitelaw, Hennie Walters
80 - Alain Norris, David Ryan, Padraig Dooley (IRE)
81 - Michael McGill, Stevie Phytides, Wilhelm Winsnes
82 - Nico van Rensburg
83 - Gavan Levenson
85 - Justin Hobday, Teboho Sefatsa
86 - Eddie Lombard, Stephen Moloi
87 - Forster Sikolobo, Jason Jackson (ZIM)
88 - Irvin Mosate, Lebo Ramukosi
89 - Peter Msiza DSQ - Eugen Marugi, Ashley Roestoff