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Colsaerts leads Volvo with course record 64

GEORGE, South Africa (AP)—Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium opened with a courserecord 9-under-par 64 to lead the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions at TheLinks at Fancourt on Thursday.

Colsaerts has a four-stroke lead over South Africa’s Branden Grace andThomas Aiken , and England’s Tom Lewis .

The previous course record was 68 set by Tim Clark and Ross Fisher in thefirst round of the 2005 South African Open.

“I’m very happy. Having a course record on a course like this is obviouslya pretty big thing,” Colsaerts said. “You hear about this place, being rankedNo. 1 in South Africa, it’s quite special.”

Known as one of the longest drivers on tour, Colsaert’s iron play andputting drew attention instead on Thursday.

He rolled in the longest putt of his round when he holed a 12-footer forbirdie on the second.

“Then every birdie just seemed from pretty close range. I holed everychance I had,” he said.

He birdied nine of 11 holes from the eighth.

“I kept hitting the irons very, very close to the flag. You know, once youhit three or four in a row you feel you can kind of hole from the fairway prettymuch,” he said.

His only bogey came at the par-4 sixth with a three-putt. But it was a roundthat clearly stood out for him.

“This is probably one of the best, if not the best. On a course like this,even if we don’t play it at the very back, it’s quite a serious test of golf.This is probably the best round I’ve ever had.”

Padraig Harrington showed glimpses of a return to form with his 4-under 69,despite a double-bogey 7 at the last.