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Golf 23.2.2017 07:11 pm

Little-known Paul Peterson red hot on a damp day

American Paul Peterson is used to producing sub-65 rounds, as he vividly showed in the first round of the Joburg Open. Photo: Petri Oeschger/Gallo Images.

American Paul Peterson is used to producing sub-65 rounds, as he vividly showed in the first round of the Joburg Open. Photo: Petri Oeschger/Gallo Images.

American shoots to the top of the leaderboard on a rain-hit first day of the Joburg Open but young Aaron Rai lurks.

Paul Peterson may be a little-known American playing on the European Tour but he has fathered the most sub-65 rounds on the tour since 2015 following his brilliant 62 on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s West Course in the sodden first round of the Joburg Open on Thursday.

Peterson’s nine-under-par round is the fourth score of less than 65 he has posted since 2015, putting him ahead of Alex Noren, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Scott Hend, Alexander Levy, Bradley Dredge and Benjamin Hebert, who have all produced three sub-65 scores in the same time.

The 28-year-old Peterson gave much of the credit for his round to a new putter he has brought with him to South Africa following a season in which he finished tied-45th in Hong Kong and tied-29th in Malaysia.

He missed two out of three cuts in the United Arab Emirates.

“I got into a nice rhythm and I put a new putter in play this week. It proved to be a good first round with it, so I’m really happy,” Peterson said.

Tournament director David Williams eventually called the players in at 2.35pm due to the course becoming waterlogged, and play was called off 45 minutes later as the persistent rain showed no sign of lessening.

Peterson was one of the 114 golfers, from a field of 210, who managed to complete his round, going off at 8.20am, and he had nothing but praise for how manicured the course was.

“It was really wet out there! Actually I am very impressed with the conditions of the course and the greens, even them putting mowers on the fairways, I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to do that, so hats off to the superintendent and everybody for getting the course prepped,” he said.

“I heard you guys got like 140mm over the last few days, so hats off to everybody for getting the course in the condition that it’s in.”

No bogeys on the card is one thing on the West Course, but to do it on the challenging East Course is especially noteworthy.

Making 21-year-old Aaron Rai’s effort even more remarkable is that it came in just his third European Tour event, his 65 lifting the Englishman into a tie for second place with compatriot Paul Waring, two strokes behind Peterson.

“It was pretty steady throughout, really. I drove it well, hit a few greens, made a few putts and also made a couple of up-and-downs when needed, so it was really solid throughout,” Rai said.

Frenchman Romain Langasque and South Africa’s Jbe Kruger both shot 65s, with no dropped shots, on the West Course to share fourth place on six-under-par with Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg, with Kruger saying he did it with practically no preparation.

“It’s the most unprepared I’ve been for a tournament ever, but it still worked. I made a few putts, even though I didn’t hit the ball great, whereas in the last five or six months I’ve been hitting the ball well but made no putts,” Kruger said.

It was also a good day for another South African, Dean Burmester, who is chasing his first European Tour title having won six times on the Sunshine Tour.

Burmester shot a 66 on the West Course for a share of seventh on five-under-par with Italian Francesco Laporta, Spain’s Pep Angles, Adilson da Silva of Brazil and fellow South Africans Teaghan Gauche, Dylan Frittelli and George Coetzee.

“I was fortunate enough to hit it pretty well off the tee today, so hopefully if I can emulate that on Friday, that would be great,” Burmester said.

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