Otto leads with round of 65

Friday, January 26

EAST LONDON, South Africa -- Hennie Otto put his club-snapping days behind him and shot a 65 Thursday to lead the South African Open by a stroke.

Otto remained on top of the leaderboard after the delayed completion of the first round of the South African Open on Friday.

The round was carried over from Thursday because of lightning, with half the field still to finish before the start of the second round.

Otto, who broke his clubs and threw them into a river after carding an 80 in the second round of the recent South African Masters, had finished before lightning twice forced the suspension of play.

Half of the field will have to complete their first rounds Friday morning at the East London Golf Club.

Otto's nearest challenger in the clubhouse was Ignacio Garrido, who carded a 6-under 66.

The most significant mover of Friday morning was South African Roger Wessels, who joined Switzerland's Paolo Quirici and Britons Greg Owen and Bradley Dredge on five under.

Otto was not expected to feature so prominently after missing the cut in his previous two events. But the infamous club-snapping incident convinced him that he needed to take a firmer grip on his emotions.

"My management company had a chat with me after that. It was all positive, and we agreed that I need to make a change mentally," Otto said.

"I'm a perfectionist on the golf course. I want it to go my way and no other way. I'm learning to deal with that," he added.

Darren Clarke, the highest ranked player in the field, opened with a disappointing fiv5-over 77 that included a second nine of 42 and an 8 at the par-5 third.

Clarke declared before this tournament that he wanted to be more relaxed on the course this year, but his resolution was tested to the utmost.

"I had an adventurous day," Clarke said. "Considering how good the conditions were, I don't think I could've shot 77 if I tried to. I don't feel I played badly. I just hit a couple of bad shots, and this course punishes mistakes like that.

"I'm also not used to grainy greens such as these. I had difficulty reading the lines on my putts."