Kingswood Golf EstateReeve Whitson is tied for eighth with Ireland fifth in the team standings following the opening round of the Ten Nations Cup in South Africa.

The Mourne golfer carded a two under 70 at Kingswood Golf Estate in George to trail leader Paul Elissalde of France by just two strokes. Team scores. Individual

The Ten Nations Cup is an amalgamation of the biennial Four Nations Cup and the Southern Cross Trophy and is being contested by South Africa and teams from England, Scotland, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Colombia.

All team members compete in all four rounds with the best three scores from each round counting toward the overall team total.

New Zealand edged ahead to top the leaderboard at seven-under-par 209, two shots clear of Scotland with Ireland and Colombia tied for fifth, five shots off the pace at two under 214.

Moyola Park’s Chris Selfridge - the Irish Close and East of Ireland champion, shot a one under 71 to share 14th with Harry Diamond tied 23rd on one over after making five birdies in a one over 73.

Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan was the discarded Irish score following a two over 74 that left him tied 27th in the 36-man field.

France were boosted by a magnificent four under 68 by 17-year-old Ellisade, who finished the day two in front of compatriot Pierre Mazier, Scotland’s Graeme Robertson, Argentina’s Jamie Lopez Rivarola, England’s Toby Tree, Kiwi Vaughan McCall and Australia’s Brady Watt.

All four New Zealanders are sporting busy sideburns as a bonding exercise, McCall explained.

“Since we’ve all been together since January, we decided to grow sideburns just to boost our team spirit, but we don’t mind if it intimidates a few people,” McCall said with a laugh.

The happiest man in the clubhouse was England’s Jamie Rutherford, who was one over playing the par-three 18th but finished by holing his 118-yard tee shot for a hole in one and a 71.

“I hit my tee shot and we all heard the ball connect with the pin,” he explained. I was really struggling throughout the day and I figured, the way my round was going, I was probably in a greenside bunker.

“I was absolutely thrilled when we discovered my ball smack in the middle of the hole. Hopefully I’ll pick up where I left off tomorrow.”