The 39-year-old Richard Sterne has emerged as the first-round leader at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after a flying start on Thursday.
The second European Tour event for the year teed off at the Emirates Golf Club with 13 South Africans, including three-time event winner Ernie Els, in the field.
But it was Sterne, who, somewhat surprisingly, made a brilliant start to the week with an opening-round 64.
Playing the back nine first, the 2009 SA Open champion put his irons and putter to work, rolling in five birdies before the turn.
A single drop-shot on the 6th, his 15th hole of the day, didn’t dampen his spirits, though. Sterne sank another birdie on the final hole to edge ahead on eight under par.
It was enough to give him a one-shot advantage ahead of the second round with American Kurt Kitayama in second place.
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Fellow South African Justin Harding was one of the early starters on Thursday and also didn’t waste any time to make his intentions clear for the week.
Harding shot a splendid six-under-par 66 to kickstart his attempt at a second European Tour title to end the day in T3, alongside Sergio Garcia.
Jayden Schaper and Compleat Golfer playing editor Brandon Stone went two under in their opening rounds, while Dean Burmester, Justin Walters and George Coetzee all settled for even-par displays.
Els and Zander Lombard both went one over for their rounds, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Wilco Nienaber two over, and Garrick Higgo and Haydn Porteous four over.