NGC Day 1 – As it happenedon December 5, 2013
10:10 – And we have lift off here at Sun City! Englishman David Lynn gets things underway by ripping one down the middle. Francesco Molinari follows suit, while Tshwane Open champion Dawie van der Walt finds the left rough.
10:25 – The Italian holes from the fringe to open his account with a birdie three, while some tidy work from the sand ensures a par for Lynn. Alas, Van der Walt wasn’t able to salvage an up and down from the sand himself, and has to settle for an opening bogey.
10:42 – Molinari quick out the blocks here, as he rolls home a three footer for a second consecutive birdie. The generous par-five second hole also offers up a birdie to Lynn, while Van der Walt is unable to convert his eight-foot chance.
10:46 – Magnificent from Luke Donald as he puts it close from the left rough on the first hole, and makes no mistake with the putt to get his tournament off to a fine start. Meanwhile, 400 metres further back, warm applause for crowd favourite Louis Oosthuizen, who sends his opening tee shot down the middle.
11:01 – Some more action at the second as Donald’s 15-feet eagle effort tracks the cup, and he races into the lead at three under. Two nicely weighted putts in a row – the Englishman is looking ominous!
11:21 – Impressive birdie three for Jamie Donaldson at the third hole. The Welshman failed to birdie the rather straightforward second hole, but gets into red numbers at the third. Don’t think that hole will be giving up too many threes this week.
11:28 – Big roar for the Big Easy on the first tee. The tournament’s most successful player returns after a three-year hiatus, and it seems “Ernie’s Army” has been re-assembled. Neither he nor compatriot Branden Grace can find the short stuff with their drives though.
11:49 – Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge also off to a flyer with an opening pair of birdies, although Donald remains rock-steady at three under. Meanwhile some red numbers for a South African at last as Charl Schwartzel chips it close at the second hole and duly converts the putt for birdie.
12:10 – World number three Henrik Stenson is back at Sun City, and wasted little time signalling his intent with a birdie at the first. However, he was unable to make a four at the second as his putt slipped just wide. Donald ahead by two with a steady flow of pars. Despite more forgiving rough and low scores being predicted, the iconic Gary Player course is holding its own.
12:13 – Play suspended as some ominous clouds circle the Pilanesburg. Not sure at this stage how long the electricity is forecast to remain in the air.
12:33 – Pelting down here at Sun City, let’s hope it passes soon!
13:30 – Well, the announcement at 1:30pm ended up being an “announcement for an announcement,” so hopefully we’ll have an idea of when play might start at 2:15. Still some pretty horrible weather about though!
14:13 – Announcement will be at 2:30, with skies looking a little better.
14:30 – Play to start at 3pm, and the boys are out on the range already. Will be a race against time to get the round completed.
15:07 – The first action after the horn sounds as defending champion Martin Kaymer hits a magnificent approach at the second hole. He duly converts the eagle putt, getting his title defence off to a fine start. Meanwhile up ahead, Stenson reacts angrily to a wayward tee shot at the third. His ball ends up deep in the Pilanesburg’s thickest jungle.
15:17 – The usually difficult eighth hole is yielding some birdies already today. Donaldson makes a lovely three to get to two under, before Darren Fichardt holes a 25 footer to restore parity with par. And Donald extends his lead with a three of his own there to get to four under.
15:37 – Donaldson birdies the par-five ninth hole, but Donald responds with a delightful birdie of his own as his wedge approach finishes 12 feet from the pin. The putt never looked like missing.
15:58 – Kaymer rolls in a beauty at the short fourth hole to get it to three under, but gives one away immediately after at the fifth. Neither Donald nor Donaldson manage a birdie at the par-five tenth hole, so it’s as you were at the top of the leaderboard.
16:12 – Magic moment here on the ninth hole. Brendon de Jonge, forced to lay up with his second, hits a superb approach from 100 yards that finds the cup! His dart lands 12 feet past the pin, and, to the delight of the galleries, spins back before falling into the hole. The eagle sees him turn with 33, just two behind Donald.
16:18 – There goes the siren! And the players are off once again. Looking ominous, will be hard to see play resuming today.
16:35 – An announcement has been made that play has been called off for the day. Proceedings will resume at 7:30am tomorrow, with the groupings remaining the same for the second round in the afternoon.