Fisher king on opening day of “Africa’s Major”

by Michael Vlismas on

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Ross Fisher started the year with a win in South Africa, and he’s hoping to end it with one as well.

The Englishman opened with a six-under-par 66 to lead Thursday’s first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge by two strokes at the Gary Player Country Club.

South Africa’s George Coetzee, Germany’s Marcel Siem and Frenchman Alexander Levy are his nearest challengers in what has been a promising start for these three newcomers.
And Siem enjoyed a particularly rewarding first day on his debut in “Africa’s Major” when he holed out for an eagle on the par-four 17th to win a Volvo V40 T5 R-Design.

But the biggest smile on a glorious day at Sun City belonged to Fisher.
In March this year the former Ryder Cup player ended an almost four-year win drought with his victory in the Tshwane Open. He said then he hoped it would spark a comeback that would lift him to the once world number 17 spot he occupied.

And his 66 was certainly another positive step in that direction. He turned in four under, then climbed to seven under through 15 holes before his only bogey of the round on the 16th.

“One bogey and seven birdies for a round of six under on this golf course – I’ll definitely take that and run,” said Fisher. “I didn’t miss many fairways out there and played exactly how I wanted to.”

Coetzee was at one stage tied for the lead with Fisher in a round where he made an incredible par from deep in the bushes on the par-five 14th hole.

No South African has won the Nedbank Golf Challenge since Trevor Immelman in 2007, and Coetzee seemed determined to change that with his start.

He opened with three straight birdies for a dream debut in this event, and was at five under par through 17 holes before a bogey at the last for his 68.

“It was great to start with those birdies in my first Nedbank Golf Challenge,” he said.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez hit the first shot of the 2015 European Tour season when he teed off this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge. And the evergreen Spaniard went on to open with a two-under-par 70, as did the trio of South Africans Tim Clark, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.

Defending champion Thomas Bjørn struggled to a first round of 80.

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