sport

Dyson claims Tshwane Open lead

Simon Dyson hit the headlines for the right reasons as he claimed the clubhouse lead in the Tshwane Open before play was suspended on Thursday.

An approaching thunderstorm forced the players off the course at 1730 local time and play was later abandoned for the day, with a restart scheduled at 0645 on Friday.

Dyson birdied his last four holes to card a flawless seven-under-par 65 and lead by one from compatriot Ross Fisher and South African duo Jared Harvey and Erik van Rooyen.

Another South African, Trevor Fisher Jnr, was seven under with two holes of his round to complete.

Dyson is playing his sixth event since being handed a suspended two-month ban from the European Tour following his disqualification from the BMW Masters in October.

The 36-year-old was seen to deliberately press down a spike mark to improve his position during the second round, despite knowing it was against the rules.

However, he was cleared of "a premeditated act of cheating" by a disciplinary panel in December and given a two-month ban, suspended for 18 months, fined 30,000 and ordered to pay 7,500 towards the European Tour's costs.

"It kind of gave me the love of the game back a little bit," Dyson told reporters after his round. "There was the chance it might have been taken away from me for a few months and thankfully it wasn't.

"It made me really knuckle down and get my head sorted and enjoy it again. I really enjoyed today's round and my golf this year, even though I missed the last couple of cuts.

"I am playing some good golf and enjoying it, which is pretty big really considering it's my 14th year on tour."

Dyson's good friend and fellow professional Nick Dougherty, commentating for Sky Sports, added: "It's a difficult situation and I know a lot of the players gave him a hard time over it initially, but as Simon himself has said - and it was ruled a momentary aberration - it's something he has never done before and would never do again and we have to take Simon's word at that.

"What's happened since will have been very difficult to deal with. That sort of thing tends to stick with you. Simon has such a strong mind and it can't be underestimated exactly what he has done.

"He has come out this season on the back of all of that, some horrible publicity for him and he is playing some good golf. All credit to him for having the strength of mind to be able to do that, not many people could."

Fisher, who lost a play-off for the Perth International at the end of last season, had started from the 10th with a birdie and picked up further shots at the 15th, 16th and 18th to be out in 32.

The 33-year-old former Ryder Cup player dropped his first shot of the day on the first, but bounced back with four birdies in a row from the fifth before another dropped shot on the last.

Van Rooyen is ranked 1,505th in the world and had to qualify for the event on Tuesday, but only matching Fisher's bogey on the ninth prevented him from having a share of the lead.

"I'm extremely happy," Van Rooyen said. "I hit the ball extremely well today. I missed a couple of short ones out there, but I had my fair share of long ones that I made, so I'm happy with the start.

"It's a lot of fun and I'm just trying to enjoy the experience. You try to stay calm and seeing some of those big names below me on the leaderboard - that's a lot of fun, trust me."