JOHANNESBURG (AP)—Ireland’s Damien McGrane and Jamie Elson of England eachshot an 8-under 63 to share the lead in the incomplete rain-affected first roundat the Joburg Open on Thursday.
Nearly half the field, including defending champion Charl Schwartzel , failedto finish their rounds because of a four-hour rain delay at the RoyalJohannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
South Africa’s Desvonde Botes was part of a three-way tie for third after a7-under 65 on the par-72 East Course. He was tied with Reinier Saxton of theNetherlands and South Africa’s Peter Karmis , who each shot 64 on the WestCourse.
Retief Goosen had a 66 on the West Course.
McGrane had an eagle and seven birdies and held the early clubhouse leaddespite a bogey on No. 18. He was joined by Elson after play resumed. TheEnglishman made 10 birdies, including four in his first four holes, but droppedshots at Nos. 10 and 11.
Elson had to wait through the delay to hole an 8-foot putt for birdie on No.16 after having been forced off the course following his tee shot on the par-3hole.
Botes holed five birdies and ended with an eagle for the round of the day onthe tougher East Course. Of the players that finished, Botes was the only one inthe top 19 who opened on the East.
Goosen began with three straight birdies but faded with a bogey and just onebirdie on his back nine.
Schwartzel, the two-time defending champion, was even par through 15 holeson the East Course after four birdies and four bogeys when bad light stoppedplay.
Former major winner Rich Beem was also part of the field at the $1.65million tournament, the American entering the final season of his 10-yearexemption on the European Tour for his 2002 triumph at the U.S. PGAChampionship.
Beem was 2 over after 15 holes on the East Course.