Pair share Joburg Open lead in South Africa

By Sports NetworkJanuary 8, 2009, 5:00 pm
European TourJOHANNESBURG, South Africa ' Trevor Fisher Jr. and Steven Jeppesen both fired 8-under-par 63s on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Joburg Open.
 
Michael Hoy was a shot back at 7-under 64, while Rafael Cabrera Bello, David Drysdale, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, Andrew McLardy, Eduardo Molinari and Patrik Sjoland were all tied at 6-under 65 on a tight leaderboard.
 
There were 48 players overall within five shots of the co-leaders.
 
Fisher, a 29-year-old South African, set an early pace when he teed off in a morning group on the West course ' the East course at Royal Johannesburg/Kensington is also being used ' and made six birdies over his first nine holes.
 
'It's always nice to have a good start,' he said.
 
Fisher's only bogey came at No. 10, slowing the three-time Sunshine Tour winner's pace. But he went on to make a birdie at the 11th and back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th to secure the early clubhouse lead.
 
'I had nice rhythm and I putted really well,' said Fisher. 'I gave myself some nice opportunities. I was quite patient, which is a good thing for me as I don't feel rushed, and maybe I can maintain it now for three more days.'
 
Jeppesen, also playing the West course, teed off in the afternoon and nearly matched Fisher's flying start with a 5-under 31 on the front nine. It included two birdies and eagles at the second and seventh holes.
 
He knew the course was yielding good early scores.
 
'Before I went out there I saw that there were a lot of guys shooting good scores on the first six holes,' said Jeppesen, a 24-year-old from Sweden.
 
He bogeyed the 10th, but completed a mistake-free back nine that included birdies at the 11th, 12th and 15th holes to tie Fisher for the first-round lead.
 
'It was a good round and I'm very pleased,' said Jeppesen.
 
Further down the leaderboard, defending champion Richard Sterne was tied for 109th place following an even-par 71. Sterne, who claimed a pair of titles before the holiday break, is attempting to win three consecutive events.
 
The tournament, co-sanctioned by the European Tour and South Africa's Sunshine Tour, features a field of 210 players.
 
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