• Volvo Golf Champions

Flawless Jacquelin leads in Durban

ESPN staff
January 9, 2014
Raphael Jacquelin made five birdies in Durban © Getty Images

Raphael Jacquelin leads the way at the Volvo Golf Champions following a stunning opening-round 67 that defied the windy conditions in Durban.

The Frenchman's Open de Espana win last year qualified him for the 36-man field, and he took full advantage with 13 pars and five birdies at the Durban Country Club to end one shot ahead of South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen.

"I managed to get everything right," said Jacquelin. "A bogey-free round; that's the key, to go bogey-free every round on this course.

"It's a new year and pretty good way for me to start, so that's great."

Jacquelin's first birdie came courtesy of a long putt on the sixth hole, with another at the par-five eighth - although he almost chipped in for eagle having missed the green with an eight iron.

He then made three birdies in his final five holes, although defending champion Oosthuizen kept at his heels just a stroke behind having recovered from a bogey at the first.

Darren Clarke and Victor Dubuisson are a further shot back, with the Northern Irishman - who has not secured a top 10 finish on the European Tour in two years - showing his expertise in links golf with birdies on the second, eighth, 10th, 14th and 18th holes.

Dropped shots on five and 11 checked Clarke's progress, but did not detract from an excellent display - which he put down to dropping three stone in recent months.

"It's something, I took a look at myself in October and thought it's time to make a change," Clarke said of his new fitness regime.

"I am feeling strong. I reached 10 today, whatever it was, hit it 300 off the tee into the wind and hit driver from 285 to 12 feet and I couldn't have reached there maybe five, six months ago. So hopefully it will pay off."

Asked how much weight he had lost, Clarke said: "Enough but a little bit more won't do any harm."

Volvo Golf Champions - first round leaderboard:

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