False start for Dunne as food poisoning forces SA Open withdrawal
Published 08/01/2016 | 02:30
Food poisoning for Paul Dunne; the yips for Ernie Els; play suspended due to the threat of lightning; and David Howell went topless.
These were just some of the talking points on day one of the BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni yesterday.
Almost as a by the way, four South Africans forged their way to the top four places on the leaderboard, headed by Jaco Van Zyl on seven under par 65.
Shaun Norris (-6), and Keith Horne and Jbe Kruger, both on five under, kept the home flag flying high for the galleries at Glendower GC.
The leading group were among the majority of competitors who finished 18 holes before play was suspended in the afternoon, leaving 33 players to complete their first round this morning.
All of this is immaterial to Dunne, who fell victim to food poisoning and could not take his place in the starting field.
It was a big disappointment for the Greystones man, who was the sole Irish entry. Dunne (22) made the long journey with the intention of kick-starting his first full season as a European Tour professional, but instead, he was laid low by a tummy bug.
Ernie Els, an icon of the game in South Africa, might have felt like joining Dunne on the sidelines as his putting went awry.
He moved from three over par to level par with birdie-eagle on the seventh and eighth holes, his 16th and 17th. But a horrible three-putt on his last hole, where he missed from 18 inches, left a sour taste in Els' mouth.
There was light relief for the galleries when Howell did something different when he needed to play a shot just on the water's edge of a greenside lake. Most golfers take their shoes off, but Howell divested himself of his shirt to keep it dry.
He literally splashed the ball onto the green, spraying muck and water into the air.
Howell got some stick for that on Twitter and responded: "2 new sponsors on board, and I make Twitter topless, classic!"
Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell spoke of their sadness at the loss of Christy O'Connor Junior before starting their first round in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Maui.
Harrington told his followers on Facebook: "I was shocked as I was only with him a few weeks ago and he was in great form, as always. He was a great golfer but more importantly a great man."
BMW SA Open, Live, Sky Sports 4, 8.00am/12.00pm
Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Live, Sky Sports 4, 11.00pm