Otto Leads at Rain-Soaked Mercedes

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Through heavy rain and lightning outbreaks, Hennie Otto managed to squeeze in a 7-under-par 65 Thursday at the East London Golf Club, and grab a one-shot lead in the Mercedes-Benz South African Open.
 
While several players did not to complete their opening rounds due to the weather, Otto enters Friday one stroke better than Spain's Ignacio Garrido, and two better than Paolo Quirici, Greg Owen and Bradley Dredge. Three back at 4-under were Simon Dyson and Roger Wessels, each of whom only made it through 16 and 13 holes respectively.
 
The 24-year-old Otto's fine display of golf comes somewhat as a surprise, as he was chastised not long ago by media and the South African Tour following a nasty display of anger in the second round of the South African Masters.
 
Otto had shot 80, and promptly responded by breaking all the clubs in his bag and tossing them into a nearby river following the round. Fortunately for him, however, he escaped punishment by his tour, and now claims he has learned a lesson.
 
'My management company had a chat with me after that incident,' he said. 'It was all positive, and we agreed that I need to make a change mentally.'
 
It seems he may be back on track to doing just that this week.
 
Tournament favorite Darren Clarke did not fare quite as well on this opening day, however. He blew up to a score of 77, which included an eight on the par-5 3rd hole.
 
'I don't think I could have shot 77 if I tried to, considering how good the conditions were,' the Northern Irishman, who played early before the storms. 'I didn't feel I played badly. I just hit a couple of bad shots and this course punishes mistakes like that.'
 
Last week's heroic second-place finisher at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, Justin Rose, closed out his opening day with an even-par 72. Defending champion Mathias Gronberg was also on that mark through 15 holes, when play was called.
 
The conclusion of the first round will pick up first thing Friday morning, with the second beginning immediately thereafter.
 
Click here for Full-Field scores from the South African Open!