JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Lowly ranked South African Keenan Davidse fired an eight-under-par 63 on Thursday (Dec 7) to lead the Joburg Open with a little help from a broom, fork, saucer and glass of water.
After several days of torrential rain in Johannesburg, there were fears that the first round would again fall victim to bad weather that has jinxed the tournament in the past.
Gaby Lubeck, an official at the Randpark Golf Club where the tri-sanctioned European Tour, Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour event is being staged, decided on an unusual course of action.
She hung a broom on a tree outside the clubhouse and buried a fork at the base of the trunk while a colleague placed a glass of water upside down on a saucer above the fork.
Lubeck learnt of the broom-and-fork trick from a friend several years ago when organising an outdoor birthday party for her husband.
"There was a dark cloud right above the party venue, but it did not rain. So when it rained all Tuesday at Randpark, I decided to use the trick."
Although some rain fell Thursday at the suburban club, there was no threat of play being suspended or abandoned for the 240 competitors.
The last Joburg Open, staged at a different venue in the largest South African city, was cut from four rounds to three because of torrential seasonal rain.
Davidse mocked his world ranking of 680 with nine birdies and a lone bogey in halves of 32 and 31 over the Bushwillow track, the easier of two courses being used for the first two rounds.
Each competitor plays one round over the par-71 Bushwillow layout, one over the longer, par-72 Firethorn course and, after the cut, Firethorn hosts the final two rounds.
Davidse excelled at the par fives, claiming birdies at all three, Another five birdies came at par fours with one at a par three.
"I do not know what to say," chuckled Davidse, who missed the cut at the Mauritius Open last week and tied for 96th place.
"Obviously, I am very happy. I did not really have any expectations coming into the week. I just wanted to have fun, so I am very blessed to be playing well."
Six golfers lie second on 64 - South Africans Jared Harvey, Erik van Rooyen and Ockie Strydom, English pair Matthew Baldwin and James Morrison and German Sebastian Heisele.
Defending champion Darren Fichardt of South Africa opened with a three-over 75.
Title favourite and former British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa withdrew after a freak eve-of-tournament accident.
He hurt his fingers when they were caught between airport trollies after returning from the Mauritius Open.
American Cody Martin took his place and returned a 71.