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Jaco Van Zyl battles gales to take lead

South Africa's Jaco Van Zyl described conditions as 'very difficult' yesterday. Picture: Getty Images

South Africa's Jaco Van Zyl described conditions as 'very difficult' yesterday. Picture: Getty Images

JACO Van Zyl is at the top of the leader­board following the opening day of the Africa Open in East London, but could lose the first-round lead today after strong winds saw many competitors fail to complete 18 holes yesterday.

Van Zyl was among the morning starters and shot a six-under-par 66 to lead by one at the end of a day interrupted by a near three-hour delay due to the poor conditions. The South African leads by one from Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva, who racked up five birdies in just eight holes before his charge was halted when play was suspended for the day at 6:55pm local time due to bad light.

If Da Silva can replicate his searing form when he concludes his opening round today, the world No 365 will have every chance of building a commanding lead.

England’s John Parry was second in the clubhouse after a four-under 68. Van Zyl and Parry were joined at the top of the leaderboard when play was suspended by chief referee John Paramor, who made the call after several balls were seen to move about in the high winds on some of the more exposed greens.

Van Zyl nevertheless conquered the tricky conditions to register three birdies, a bogey and an eagle at the long 15th to reach four under through 14 holes. The 33-year-old from 
Kokstad added further birdies after play resumed to pull away from Parry, who had two birdies and two bogeys following the restart to stay at four under.

Van Zyl earlier backed the decision to call a halt to play, saying: “It’s getting really difficult out there, to the point where the wind is literally blowing you off your feet. I think it’s a pretty good call, because it’s not getting easier.”

South Africa’s Oliver Bekker was one stroke behind Parry to sit third in the clubhouse on three under. Two players still out on the course also finished on three under, with Finland’s Mikko Korhonen benefiting from an eagle and a birdie from his 11 holes, and South Africa’s Andrew Curlewis hitting three birdies through eight.

Scotland’s Peter Whiteford shot a 74.

 

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