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Home Half way home to two in a row

South Africa’s Andrew Georgiou leads by one stroke at The Open Championship International Final Qualifying – Africa, after carding an opening 7-under-par 65 during the opening round at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club on Tuesday.

“I made an eagle on the eighth hole after I hit a three-wood to three foot and all of a sudden the momentum changed. Eventually it clicked – today was just a matter of staying patient and taking the opportunities when they came,” he said.

The 26-year-old was one of the three qualifiers from IFQ-Africa 2012, and is determined to play at golf’s oldest Major Championship again. “It helps having done it once before. I enjoy this event and I really enjoyed The Open last year – there are a lot of great memories. Knowing what’s in store for you if you qualify really motivates you to get back there,” he said.

He will face stiff competition during the second and final round tomorrow, however, as the remaining 63 entrants battle it out for the three spots on offer at the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield from 14-21 July.  This year’s IFQ field is as strong as it’s ever been – amongst the contestants are seven European Tour winners and 28 Sunshine Tour winners.
At the close of the first round three players shared second on six-under-par. South Africa’s Darryn Lloyd set the mark in the clubhouse with his 66, and made it clear that the scoring would be low at the East Course of Royal Johannesburg & Kensington.

He was soon joined by compatriot Justin Harding, who has watched The Open on television since he was a boy. Another good round on Wednesday could earn him a place at a Championship that he could only wish to play in.

“I think it will be an amazing experience to play The Open. Every youngster watched the Championship and it was special to watch Ernie Els win it, both last year and at Muirfield in 2002. To possibly follow in his footsteps would be awesome,” said Harding.

Fellow South African Jake Roos was the third player to reach the clubhouse at six-under, and was pleased to get the 36-hole event off to such a good start. “To play in the biggest Major would be more than just a step up, and I would love a taste of the experience!” he said.

Desvonde Botes and Spain’s Eduardo de la Riva are tied fifth on five-under-par, while Dean Burmester took hold of sole seventh on four-under. Experienced Englishman Ross McGowan, the highest ranked player in the field Garth Mulroy, and South African Oliver Bekker share eighth position on three-under-par.

Last year’s IFQ – Africa winner Grant Veenstra is a further shot back on two-under-par, while 2012’s final qualifier, Brazilian Adilson Da Silva, lies back in tied
45th at one-over-par. 

The field will also have to watch out for South Africa’s James Kingston, who sits tied for
11th on two-under-par. The two-time European Tour winner has played in The Open Championship on four separate occasions, and will be eager to return to Muirfield where he made his Open debut back in 2002.

Scores after round 1 of IFQ Africa – 2013, Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club:

65 – Andrew Georgiou (RSA)

66 – Darryn Lloyd, Justin Harding, Jake Roos (All RSA)

67 – Desvonde Botes (RSA), Eduardo de la Riva (ESP)

68 – Dean Burmester (RSA)

69 – Oliver Bekker (RSA), Ross McGowan (ENG), Garth Mulroy (RSA)

70 – Martin Rominger (SUI), Richard Finch (ENG), Toto Thimba, James Kingston, PH McIntyre, Grant Veenstra, Jared Harvey, Lyle Rowe, Adrian Ford (All RSA)

For the draw and full hole-by-hole scores from IFQ Africa visit TheOpen.com.