sport

Fisher and Harvey share lead

Ross Fisher put his length off the tee to good use to claim a share of the clubhouse lead on the opening day of the Tshwane Open on Thursday.

Fisher fired eight birdies and two bogeys to card a six-under-par 66 and join South African Jared Harvey at the top of the leaderboard.

At 7,964 yards, the Ernie Els-designed Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate at Centurion is the longest course in European Tour history and the first to have four par fives all measuring over 600 yards.

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 - narrowly missing an eagle attempt from 25 feet on the 607-yard eighth hole - before another dropped shot on the last following an errant drive.

Harvey had completed a flawless 66 a few minutes earlier as he looked to maintain the dominance of South African players on home soil.

Thomas Aiken's victory in the Africa Open a fortnight ago means 10 of the last 13 European Tour events staged in South Africa have been won by home players, including five of the seven held so far this season.

The start of play had been delayed by 30 minutes on Thursday morning to allow greenkeepers time to repair damage to some of the bunkers caused by a thunderstorm on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the length of the course, the fact it is at altitude meant low scoring was still possible and more than 30 players had already posted sub-par scores.

Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard, England's Chris Wood, India's Shiv Kapur and South African Jean Hugo were all safely in the clubhouse on five under par, while pre-tournament favourite George Coetzee finished two under.

Coetzee won his first European Tour title in the Joburg Open earlier this month and reached the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona last week, where he lost to eventual winner Jason Day.

South Africa's Erik van Rooyen, ranked 1,505th in the world, made it a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after he followed an eagle on the eighth with a bogey on the ninth, his final hole.

But defending champion Dawie van der Walt was struggling at the wrong end of the field, bogeys at the first, fourth and fifth leaving him three over par at

the turn.