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Golf | SA

Damian McGrane © Gallo Images

Tin that Irish brilliance

It may or may not be true that one can buy tins of Irish golfing brilliance in your local pro shop, but Damian McGrane kept the green, white and orange flag at the top of the leaderboard at the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Thursday.

Irish golf is enjoying a phenomenal time of it on the various professional tours around the world and McGrane continued the trend on Thursday with a tremendous round of eight-under-par 63 to take him to the top of the leaderboard before a thunderstorm brought a halt to play.

"It's been quite incredible the last three or four years for a small nation to have such great results and we do feed off each other a bit. When I won in China in 2008, Darren Clarke won the following week and Peter Lawrie the week after that. Every so often we have our good spells and I wouldn't mine getting another one started here," McGrane said after his great round.

To shoot seven birdies and an eagle and just one bogey (on the last hole!), McGrane obviously adhered to the theory that the most important way around the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington course is to keep your ball in play.

"I played beautifully, from start to finish. The West Course does give up opportunities to score and tomorrow will obviously be more difficult on the East Course. But the course is perfect, the weather was perfect and I made a few putts. <\p>

"I was able to stack up the birdies and chipped in for eagle on 15, which was a nice bonus. But the wetness of the course means there's no run out there, the course is playing very long. I made use of every club in the bag and it was just about making the best of the situation. I hit every fairway, except for the last, which led to a bogey, which was disappointing," McGrane said.

The 40-year-old is trying to recapture the heights of 2010, when he finished 41st on the European Tour Order of Merit, with a runner-up finish and five other top-10s, having endured a disappointing 2011. McGrane only finished 115th in the Race to Dubai and has failed to make a cut since the Castello Masters on April 23.

Barring a catastrophe on the East Course on Friday, McGrane will be in the money this weekend, trying to hold off the challenge of South African Desvonde Botes on seven-under, and the group on six-under comprising Joel Sjoholm, David Drysdale, George Coetzee, George Murray, Carlos del Moral, Shaun Norris and Jamie Elson.


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