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Golf | SA

Bill Haas © Gallo Images

Haas, Colsaerts lead at Sun City

Tight fairways and treacherous rough kept the players in check at the Gary Player Country Club on Thursday as Bill Haas and Nicolas Colsaerts claimed a share of the first-round lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge with two-under rounds of 70 apiece.

A significant breeze and a tough layout ensured that none of the players were able to escape the chasing pack, and 10 of the 12 players in the field finished the first day within two strokes of each other. Haas, who had reached four-under by the 15th, surrendered two bogeys to the course on the 16th and 18th holes, but was still pleased to finish where he did.

“Overall, to get it to four-under, I felt like I was doing a lot of good things. I’m happy with two-under but it would have been nice to shoot a couple (more under), because it’s playing tough out there,” Haas said.

Like many of the players who come to Sun City, Haas has taken the time to enjoy the facilities it has to offer, and has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Pilanesburg thus far.

“Last time I came (in 2003), we were in the wave pool, rode four-wheelers, did a safari – and I only watched like two holes of golf. And we’re doing exactly the same thing this year, and just really enjoying everything South Africa has,” the 30 year-old said.

Colsaerts was playing behind the American, and put together a controlled round. He reached the turn at even par after a birdie and a bogey on the front nine, and appeared set for a birdie blitz after making consecutive birdies at the 10th and 11th holes. However, he could only manage to par his way home, and missed a putt from inside six feet for birdie on the final hole.

The Belgian was nonetheless pleased with his efforts, and attributed his score to a sound strategy which he had in place.

“I normally hit it very long off the tee, but around here I chose a less aggressive strategy, even when I was hitting driver. I played the same game as everyone. The wind was quite difficult to read, and it always felt like it was coming from one side. I had difficulty with it at 18.

“I actually played better before the turn, and I missed a few birdie putts on the back nine,” Colsaerts noted.

Local hero Louis Oosthuizen at one stage slipped to two-over for his round, but produced three birdies coming home without any further blemishes to finish on a respectable score of 71 and closed the day out in a three-way tie for third with Paul Lawrie and Lee Westwood.

In the Champions Challenge Bernhard Langer showed his class, with an opening 68. If the difference in tees is ignored then his four-under-par was the low-round of the day and by the close of play the German held a three-stroke lead.

“I hit the ball beautifully. I drove it extremely well, hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of chances. Overall it’s been a steady, solid round. No bogeys, and that’s always fun,” he said.

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