JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- South African Tyrone
Ferreira showed no sign of nerves on his professional debut by
firing a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 to share the lead after
the first round of the Joburg Open on Thursday.
The co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event at the
par-71 Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club got under way
in steady rain but that did not hamper Ferreira.
Ferreira, 20, was South Africa's No. 1 amateur in 2007. He
birdied his second hole as a professional, a 490-meter par-five,
to give his round immediate momentum.
"I hit a driver and three-wood to just short of the green
and then chipped to two feet," said Ferreira. "That good start
helped a lot for the rest of the day.
"It was a pretty awesome day. With all that rain, I thought
level-par would be fine. But I hit the ball well, close to the
flags, and then the putts started dropping."
Compatriot Mark Murless shared the lead with five
straight birdies from the ninth hole moving him to the top of
Ross McGowan, the 2006 English Amateur
Champion, was in a tie for third one stroke back, alongside Welshman Sion Bebb and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.
McGowan said the unrelenting rain had made Thursday's first
round a daunting challenge.
"It's not great out there, it's very tough and it's
difficult to judge your shots, you've got to carry the ball a
lot further," he said.
"The fairways are very wet and there's not much run out
there, maybe five or six yards, so I was trying to hit my drives
McGowan bogeyed the first hole but that was the only blemish
on a scorecard that included three birdies on the front nine and
two coming in.
Bebb also did not drop a stroke but said it was definitely
in spite of the conditions.
"I hate playing in the rain, to be honest. Once my grips get
wet, I struggle. But it was sort of a strange day, not heavy
rain but a continuous drizzle. I just hung on and the birdies
came to me," Bebb said.
The tournament is being played on two courses at the Royal
Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club and Murless, Ferreira,
McGowan, Larrazabal and Bebb were all on the West Course.
Briton David Drysdale was the leading performer on the more
daunting East Course where a four-under-par 67 left the Scot in
a tie for sixth place.
Richard Sterne, the highest-ranked player in the field at
number 44 in the world, shot a level-par 71 on the West Course,
while Darren Clarke, world number 229 and aiming for a comeback,
was in danger of missing the cut after a two-over-par 73.