Thriston Lawrence leads Joburg Open in Euro tour opener

JOHANNESBURG -- South African golfer Thriston Lawrence began his bid for a second title at the Joburg Open by shooting 8-under 62 Thursday to lead by three shots after the first round of the season-opening event on the European tour.

The 2024 season began just four days after the 2023 one finished in Dubai -- and the No. 90-ranked Lawrence maintained his fine form from the World Tour Championship, where he finished in a tie for fifth place.

Lawrence, who won the Joburg Open by four strokes in Nov 2021 and has captured three more titles since, birdied five of his first six holes to quickly tie for first place with clubhouse leader and compatriot Nikhol Rama (65), a player ranked No. 1,214.

Lawrence added more birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 and then rolled in a putt from 10 feet at the last to pick up another shot in a bogey-free round at Houghton Golf Club.

Defending champion Dan Bradbury shot 66 and was in a 10-way tie for third place.

The event marks the start of three straight tournaments taking place in South Africa and co-sanctioned with the country's Sunshine Tour.

Three places in the Open Championship are on offer for the leading three players not already exempt who make the cut.