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Retief Goosen in battle with Alex Cejka after birdie blitz

Home favourite Retief Goosen and Germany's Alex Cejka shared the lead after the first round of a rain-affected South African Open with scores of eight-under-par 64 in Durban.

The pair were a shot clear of world number 12 Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel after their 65s, while Englishman David Dixon was in a group of six players a further shot back on six under.

Ten others were on five under following a low-scoring day at the Durban Country Club, which was effectively day one after organisers abandoned play on Thursday less than two-and-a-half hours after the start because the constant rain made conditions unplayable.

Round two, weather permitting, is now scheduled for today and organisers plan a cut to 50 as they bid to squeeze in 36 holes on Sunday.

Two-time former champion Goosen came into the day having already completed four holes on Thursday, but despite his success, he endured a mixed day with two bogeys coming in alongside a pair of eagles and six birdies.

He said: “It went nicely for me yesterday, those four holes in the rain when I managed to get two birdies and then on the first this morning I got another one to keep the momentum going.

“I'm off to a good start so hopefully I can build on this. Then we'll see what happens on Sunday if we play 36 or 18.”

Cejka, a four-time winner on the European Tour, went through his round with his eight birdies split across both nines.

“The practice rounds were not so good for me, but today was excellent,” he said.

”Hopefully I can play well in the next three days.”

Four-time winner Els is aiming to build on his efforts yesterday.

“I hit the ball really nicely and that's something I can take out of today,” said Els.

l Rathmore Golf Club are organising an event tomorrow to show their support for their favourite son Graeme McDowell ahead of of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

They are holding a charity raffle for Multiple Sclerosis with signed memorabilia from Graeme’s US Open win.

They will also be co-ordinating phone votes on the night as they seek support from around the province to mark his fantastic achievements this year and the attention he has attracted to Northern Ireland as a whole, particularly the north coast.

Belfast Telegraph

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