Goosen and Els lead big names atop South African Open after Round 1

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Pablo Martin, who won last week's Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, took a big cut on Friday as the rain-delayed first round of the South African Open finally was finished.
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PA Sport and Associated Press

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Two-time champion Retief Goosen shot an 8-under 64 Friday for a share of the first-round lead of the 100th South African Open with Alex Cejka.

They were one stroke clear of Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel after completing a round that had been rained out Thursday at Durban Country Club.

2010 SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN

First played in 1893, the South African Open is the second-oldest national championship in golf, with only the British Open being older.

Englishman David Dixon was in a group of six players a further shot back on 6 under. Amongst them was Spaniard Carlos Del Moral with the rest -- Richard Sterne, Jaco Ahlers, Garth Mulroy and Tyrone van Aswegen -- all South African.

Ten others, including British Open champion Oosthuizen, David Drysdale from Scotland and England's Richard McEvoy, were on 5 under following a low-scoring day at Durban Country Club, which was effectively Day 1 after organizers abandoned play Thursday less than two and a half hours after the start because the constant rain main conditions unplayable.

Goosen came into the day having already completed four holes, but despite his success, he endured a mixed day with two bogeys coming in alongside a pair of eagles (on No.s 3 and 18) and six birdies.

“I hit a perfect 3-wood on to the front edge of 18 and then holed a 25-footer,” he said. “And on 3, I hit a 3-wood and a 5-iron from 198 meters to about 10 feet in there.

"Obviously, that's the way you want to start,” he added. “It went nicely for me yesterday, those four holes in the rain when I managed to get two birdies and then on the first this morning I got another one to keep the momentum going.

"I'm off to a good start so hopefully I can try and start building on this tomorrow afternoon,” he explained. “Then we'll see what happens on Sunday if we play 36 or 18."

The difference between Cejka and the others was that the German made no mistakes as the wind stayed away and course played even shorter than its 6,733 yards.

"It was a good day," he said. "The practice rounds were not so good for me, but today was excellent. There's still three rounds to go, which is a long, long way. Hopefully I can play well in the next three days.
 
“It’s quite a tricky course, but it’s not that long, especially when the wind’s not blowing,” Cejka said. “So I played quite smart with a lot of 3-irons off the tee, and a lot of 3-woods. You’ve got to have the ball in play.”

The second round will be played Saturday, after which the cut will be made to 50 and ties, instead of the original 65. Those who make the cut will play 36 holes Sunday in the event sanctioned by both the European Tour and southern Africa’s Sunshine Tour.

World No. 12 Els, a four-time winner, changed his mind about entering his national championship and started well, including a closing 31 that featured a chip-in for eagle on 13 and three birdies. Els, who is the highest ranked player in the field, has had an up-and-down year, but is aiming to now build on his effort.

"I missed quite a few putts on the front nine and was getting a little annoyed with myself, but I played a really solid back nine," added Els, who came home in 31. "You know I just hit the ball really nicely and that's something I can take out of today.

"I really feel like I'm solid from tee to green and you need to be on this course,” he added. “Hopefully that back nine will give me a lot of confidence for the weekend."
 
Oosthuizen had a bogey-free round and headed a group of 10 players on 67. Oosthuizen missed the cut at the Alfred Dunhill Championship last week, even though his game started coming around in the second round. He was concerned the break for rain this week would affect his momentum.

“When tournament directors and everyone is pushing you to get as many holes as possible you can play yourself out of the tournament right there,” he said.

Tim Clark, another two-time winner, was six shots off the pace.