• Tshwane Open

Dyson birdie blitz sees him top

ESPN staff
February 27, 2014
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Simon Dyson rolled in birdies in each of his final four holes to snatch the clubhouse lead at the Tshwane Open before play was suspended.

As storms closed in over the Ernie Els-designed layout at the Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate in Johannesburg, which at 7,964 yards is the longest course on the European Tour roster, Dyson carded a bogey-free 65 to top the leaderboard alongside home favourite Trevor Fisher Jr at 7-under par.

Dyson, 36, picked up shots at two, five and ten before shifting up a gear at 15. A birdie there was followed by stunning approach to 12 inches at 16 and a 15-foot putt at 17 to complete a hat-trick of gains.

And the Englishman signed off in true style with a 25-footer for birdie at the last to join Fisher Jr - who has two holes remaining in his first round - at 7-under.

Another Englishman, Ross Fisher, is a single shot back after a 66, where he is joined by South Africans Erik Van Rooyen, Jared Harvey, Darren Fichardt and Danie van Tonder - the latter two still have a hole to complete in the first round.

Speaking of his late burst of birdies, Dyson, hunting his seventh European Tour title and first since the 2011 KLM Open, told EuropeanTour.com: "It was really nice.

"I had made three really good up and downs on the holes before that [the 15th]. I drove it in the bunker down 12 and then missed the green left and chipped it to about ten feet and rolled that one in for par.

"On the next I hit a good shot and it just released and rolled into the bunker and I upped and downed that, rolled in about an eight footer for par. I flew the green at 14 and then made a really good up and down.

"You just kick on after that and next I had the par five, where you always have a chance.

"Putting has been the let-down for the last few weeks, but my caddie and me had a chat about what I'm doing wrong. We spent about an hour and a half on the putting green yesterday and I managed to get a good feel for it.

"I holed a good six footer for par at the first and then about a 40 footer for birdie at the second and that was it, I was off and running.

"It's a lovely start. It's my lowest round in a good few years, especially on the first day. It just puts you in a nice frame of mind, a good stead, and sets it up nicely to have a good weekend."

Fisher, a four-time European Tour winner between 2007 and 2010, made an excellent start. Starting at the 10th, Fisher turned in a blemish-free 32 before carding a bogey at the first.

But a run of four consecutive birdies from the fifth, including a 20-foot putt at seven, saw him reach the summit of the leaderboard, before a second bogey meant he goes into day two top of the chasing pack.

"I got into a nice steady run with four birdies in a row on the front nine, which was my back nine," Fisher said. "Unfortunately I dropped one at the last, but I can't complain too much with 6-under.

"The course is pretty soft after all the rain we've had and it depends on what happens this afternoon, but if you drive it well then you'll have a lot of looks at birdie.

"My game feels in good shape coming off the back of a good result in South Africa a couple of weeks ago. I don't know what it is, I just enjoy playing down here and I seem to play quite well."

Other Britons in contention include Chris Wood, who is part of a six-strong group at 5-under par that also includes Ireland's Kevin Phelan. Another Irishman, Shane Lowry, and England's Anthony Wall a further shot back.

Tshwane Open leaderboard

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