Marc Warren made a promising start in the rain-hit Joburg Open on a day when another Scot, Catriona Matthew, crashed to one of the worst rounds of her career in the Honda LPGA Thailand event in Chonburi.
Warren fired a flawless four-under 68 on the East Course to sit handily placed before waterlogged conditions forced play to be suspended in the opening round at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, where the clubhouse target had been set by American Paul Peterson with a nine-under-par 62 on the West Course.
David Drysdale was sitting alongside Warren with six holes to play, with Scott Jamieson a shot behind the duo at the turn, at the suspension, by which time Drumoig amateur Connor Syme had marked his European Tour debut with a gutsy level-par 71 on the West Course.
On an uncharacteristic off day in Thailand, Matthew slumped to a nightmare 12-over-par 84, leaving her six shots adrift in last position in a 70-player field. It was the Scottish No 1’s worst score since signing for a second-round 83 as she missed the cut in the 2014 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry. Her worst previous score in a regular LPGA event was an 80 in the second round of the LPGA Keb Hana Bank Championship in October 2013.
Coming off the back of a rare missed cut in last week’s Australian Women’s Open in Adelaide, the 47-year-old started with back-to-back double-bogeys at the tenth and 11th before dropping shots at the 13th, 14th and 16th to be out in 43. She then carded bogeys at the first, third, fifth and seventh coming home.
The error-strewn effort left Matthew 18 shots off the lead, shared by home hope and world No 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and South Korea’s Amy Yang after they carded matching 66s.
On the PGA Tour, Russell Knox finished birdie-birdie to salvage a two-over 72 in the first round of the Honda Classic, the event he has twice come close to winning, at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.