Luke Donald leads Nedbank Golf Challenge, storm halts first-round play

Luke Donald at the Nedbank Golf Challenge
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Luke Donald leads the Nedbank Golf Challenge, where the first round was halted by lightning on Thursday, after carding a birdie and an eagle on his first two holes.
By
Gerald Imray
Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Thursday, December 05, 2013 | 3:04 p.m.

SUN CITY, South Africa – Luke Donald's rapid start at the Nedbank Golf Challenge was halted by lightning on Thursday, leaving the former top-ranked Englishman ahead by two shots on 5 under through 11 holes of an incomplete opening round. 

No one was able to play more than 12 holes on the first day at Sun City because of lightning and a thunderstorm. 

The Nedbank Golf Challenge is one of two European Tour events on the schedule this week. The other is the UBS Hong Kong Open.

Donald began the 30-man invitational with a birdie and an eagle and was 5 under when the day's second interruption for lightning forced players off for good. He was two ahead of Jamie Donaldson and Thomas Bjorn. 

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"I feel good over the ball right now and I am playing with confidence," Donald said, coming off a win in Japan two weeks ago. 

Wales' Donaldson played 12 holes, while Denmark's Bjorn was 3 under with three birdies in his six holes. Brendon de Jonge was due to join those two on 3 under and two off the lead after spinning a wedge back into the hole from 110 yards for an eagle three on No. 9 right as the weather horn sounded. His score wasn't yet officially registered as his playing partners hadn't completed the hole. 

Playing for the first time since ending last season with the FedExCup and European money list title, Henrik Stenson was 1 under after seven and tied for fifth, with six straight pars after a birdie on No 1. 

Donald's quick start at Sun City came off sweetly struck iron shots into the greens at his opening two holes. He also picked up back-to-back birdies at the end of his opening nine. 

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"Lovely start," he said. "It doesn't get much better than 3-3 around here. Birdie, eagle and all of a sudden you are 3 under par through two holes. I played solid for those first 11 holes and hit a couple of very nice shots in that time that I was able to take advantage of." 

Defending champion Martin Kaymer is in the mix at 2 under, while Charl Schwartzel led the South African challenge as one of seven players tied at 1 under par. Sergio Garcia is also part of that group, as is Peter Uihlein of the United States. 

Ernie Els was 3 over after seven in search of his fourth title at Sun City and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose was 4 over after eight. Only Australia's Peter Senior, with three double bogeys in his first six holes to crash to 8 over through 10, was worse than Rose. 

Having initially been kept off the course for nearly three hours through an earlier thunderstorm, the players came off for the second time in late afternoon and will all have to come back at 7:30 Friday morning to complete their opening rounds.