Date: February 14, 2014
Author: Harry West, Omnisport

Santos takes two-shot lead at Africa Open

Portugal&aposs Ricardo Santos shot a blemish-free 62 to lead by two shots at the end of the first round of the Africa Open on Thursday.

Santos, ranked 216th in the world, was in excellent form at East London Golf Club in South Africa, matching his best ever score on the European Tour to finish at nine under.

Home favourite Garth Mulroy, Welshman Rhys Davies, Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard and Englishman Richard Bland all carded 64s to maintain the pressure at the summit of the leaderboard.

But 31-year-old Santos understandably thrilled with his day's work.

"I played really solidly today and gave myself a lot of chances for birdie," he said.

"I'm very pleased to make a run like I did today.

"I hit the ball solidly from the tee and my putting was all good. To shoot minus nine you have to play awesome golf, so I'm really pleased with every piece of my game.

"Today was definitely one of my best rounds of golf so far. I put the ball very close, didn't miss a fairway, and that's the key on this course."

Mulroy made six birdies, an eagle and a bogey for his 64 and the South African insisted good play would be rewarded with low scores.

"The scores are definitely out there, you've just got to make some putts," he said.

"I am pleased to be up there. I played okay on the first nine, but only turned one under. On the second nine I made a few putts and got it going."

Now in its seventh year, the tournament has been won by a South African on all of the previous six occasions, with last year's reigning champion Darren Fichardt finishing day one in a large group of players to card 66, four shots behind Santos.