Peterson defies rain deluge to lead Joburg Open
The downpours during the rain-affected first round of the Joburg Open were no match for the blistering form of Paul Peterson as the American fired a course-record-equalling 62 to lead by two shots at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.
Three players, who finish in the top 10 and ties at the Joburg Open who are not already exempt, will book a spot in The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale from 16-23 July.
A suspension in play due to a water-logged course was called at 2:35pm local time on Thursday with significant number of players in the field still to complete the first round. The first round will re-start at 06:45 local time on Friday.
Playing the West Course, the reigning D+D REAL Czech Masters champion delivered a flawless display, posting five birdies before the turn and picked up a further four shots in the remaining five holes.
Completing the round on nine-under-par, Peterson is bidding to qualify and play in The Open for the first time in his career.
“It was fun out there today”, said Peterson. “Birdieing half of the holes is never bad and bogey free to match. I felt really great and got into a nice rhythm.
“I feel like I’ve been playing really well the last few weeks and a round like this has been building. I’ve been working a lot with my coaches and feel my consistency is getting better. I’m in a good place right now.”
English pairing Aaron Rai and Paul Waring, who were both playing the East Course, are two shots further back in joint second place and currently hold the second and third qualifying places.
Playing his third event on the European Tour and aiming to make his debut in The Open, Rai was in splendid form throughout a bogey-free round of 65, carding seven birdies.
Waring last played in The Open in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, finishing tied for 19th place, and is in contention to return to the famous Southport links. The Englishman has suffered from injuries throughout the last two seasons but returned to fine form during today’s opening round, collecting a superb nine birdies. Two dropped shots prevented him from joining Peterson at the top of the leaderboard.
The 2015 Amateur Champion Romain Langasque carded a six-under-par round of 65 on the West Course and is joined in fourth place by Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg and home hope Jbe Krugar, who is already exempt after the South African secured a place at Royal Birkdale at the SMBC Singapore Open which featured as part of The Open Qualifying Series for the first time last month.
The Open Qualifying Series gives players the chance to qualify for golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events around the world.