The European Tour got it’s 2014 season underway on Thursday morning at The Durban Country Club in South Africa. The windy conditions, and somewhat slow greens held the scoring in check at the Volvo Golf Champions, but 2013 defending champion, Louis Oosthuizen got into the club house only down one stroke to leader, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin after the opening round.
The Volvo Golf Champions is similar to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions ran by the PGA. The event features the winners on tour from 2013, and all past champions. 36 players entered this year, and the big no-show was Ernie Els.
Jacquelin fired a bogey free opening round five under par 67 on the par 72 layout in the KwaZulu Province along the Indian Ocean. He made the turn at two under par, but birdies at 17 and 18 solidified his lead.
Oosthuizen overcame a bogey at the opening hole and managed five birdies around the 6800 yard layout that opened in 1922. The defending champion played in his home country, and appears to have his game back on-track after spending the lion’s share of the 2013 season recovering from injuries.
Northern Irelands Darren Clarke shares third place at three under par with Victor Dubuisson from France. The young Frenchman vaulted into the spotlight with a win at the Turkish Airlines Open back in December, which he followed up with third place finish at the season ending DP World Tour Championships, Dubai.
Victor Dubuisson is a fine young player on the European Tour, and because of his 31′st place in World Rankings, has earned a berth at Augusta in April. Keep your eyes on this youngster, he can play, and I expect to see him on the PGA Tour in the next couple of years.
Don’t look now, but 50 year-old Colin Montgomerie turned in a fine round of golf on Thursday, and has himself in a seven-way tie for fifth place at two under par. Montogomerie is tied with Simon Thornton from Ireland, Tommy Fleetwood from England, Marcel Seim from Germany, Chris Wood from England, Joost Luiten from The Netherlands, and American, Peter Uihlein.
Uihlein is the lone American in this very International field of 36 golfers. 17 nations are represented in this $4 Million Dollar event. This is a great tournament on the Sunshine Tour, and features a golf course on the edge of civilization which has African Wildlife roaming the fairways, especially monkeys.
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