Peter Lawrie continue his fine run of form when he opened with a five under 66 to lead the Irish challenge in the Joburg Open in South Africa.
The Dubliner, back to form and hoping to win back his tour card, had seven birdies on his card on the easier West Course at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, ending the day tied for 16th and just five adrift of South African Nic Henning.
Henning, who won four times on the co-sanctioning Sunshine Tour between 1999 and 2005, shot a course-record equalling 62 on the West to led by a stroke from Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and South Africa's Titch Moore and Tjaart van der Walt.
The 45-year old leader had five birdies and an eagle two in a remarkable outward 29 at a venue where he won the South African Amateur Championship back in 1991.
The European Tour’s first 59 seemed a distinct possibility but he could only birdie the 15th and 16th after the turn as he matched Desvonde Botes’ nine under par course record.
“It was fantastic - I haven’t shot 29 for a couple of years, and I was a bit nervous coming down the last hole,” said Henning. “On the last hole of the front stretch I told myself that I had to make birdie and eventually I did that.
“I’ve been playing well for the last few months, but my scores haven’t showed it. Over the last few years my scores have been really terrible and it’s nice to have a good round under the belt to prove to myself that I can still play well.
“It’s been a long time since I shot 62. I’ll try to do the same thing as I did today, just try to stay calm. I was calm today. I’ll try to hit fairways and put myself in a good position. It’s about staying in the moment and taking every shot as it is.”
Waterford Castle's Kevin Phelan shot an excellent, four under 67 on the East Course to share 27th while Gareth Maybin is 43rd after a three under 69 on the West.
As for Ryder Cup skipper Darren Clarke, he also played the tougher East Course but had a rollercoaster front nine of 39 featuring four birdies, two bogeys, two double bogeys and just one par.
He was still two over with two to play but birdied both holes to improve to tied 114th in the 210 strong field.