Donaldson leads as golfers honour Mandela

by Golfer on


On a sombre day for South Africa, Jamie Donaldson took the lead in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club. The Welshman finished off the weather-interrupted first round with a 67 to place him one shot behind leader Sergio Garcia. But as Garcia faltered with a second round of 73, Donaldson added a 66 to take a three-stroke lead on 11 under par.

“It was a solid day out there. I hit a lot of good iron shots really close to give myself chances with the putter. But I’ve still got two important days ahead of me, which I’m really looking forward to,” said Donaldson.

Henrik Stenson signed for a 67 and Ryan Moore a 65 to be his nearest challengers on eight under par at the halfway stage. But it was a day dominated by the passing of Nelson Mandela, with the golfers wearing black ribbons on their caps as a mark of respect.

A very sad day for South Africa, and the world really,” said Ernie Els. “We have lost one of the iconic leaders of our time. You cannot say anything bad about the man. He fought for what he believed in, went to prison for so many years and came out to lead our country. He was just the most amazing person I have ever met.”

The resumption of the first round began with a minute of silence at 7:30am on Friday, and with the flags on the golf course at half-mast. “We’ve been expecting it, but it doesn’t make it any easier. The country is definitely going to mourn him, and it will always miss him,” said Louis Oosthuizen. But there were those in South African golf who chose to see it as a day for celebrating a glorious life.

It’s a sad day, but also a day for celebration for what Mandela gave our country. He would’ve wanted us to celebrate,” said Gary Player. “The first time I met him after he came out of prison, I knelt down and kissed his feet and I told him I loved him. There will be a special place in heaven for him.

As one of the younger generation of South African golfers, Branden Grace never had the opportunity to meet Mandela, who always made a point of phoning South African golfers when they achieved internationally. “It’s a sad, sad day, not only for us, but also for the whole world. He was a true inspiration. He was one of the people I would truly have loved to have met,” said Grace.

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