Marianne Skarpnord shot a three-under 69 to take the outright lead after the opening round of the South African Women&aposs Open on Friday. The Norwegian carded four birdies and a bogey on a rain-affected day at Southbroom Golf Club, with a group of seven players tied for second at two under. That group included local hopes Ashleigh Simon and Stacy Lee Bregman, as well as Finland&aposs Minea Blomqvist and Swede Camilla Lennarth. Englishwoman Charley Hull, Germany&aposs Nina Holleder and Katie Burnett of the United States also posted rounds of 70. “It was very tough out there,” Bregman said. “I&aposve never played 18 holes in constant rain in South Africa before. But it was still possible to score.” Former champion Simon, who won the tournament in 2004 and 2007, is competing at her first event since undergoing hip surgery nearly four months ago. “I&aposm really happy. I only started hitting balls two weeks ago, and my coach and I have kept it pretty simple in terms of my recovery because I&aposm not 100 percent strong yet on my left side,” she said. England&aposs Emily Taylor and Rebecca Hudson led a group of seven players in a share of ninth place at one under. Sarah King was the best placed Australian in equal 16th at even par, followed by Nikki Campbell at one over and Stacey Keating and Nikki Garrett at two over.