McGrane gets rub of greens to stay hot on leader's heels
DAMIEN McGRANE found some hot form with his putter on South Africa's high veldt as he opened the inaugural Tshwane Open with a satisfying four-under-par 68.
This left the Kells man riding relatively high in a 13-way tie for ninth place, three off the pace set by recent African Open winner Darren Fichardt's superb 65.
For the fourth tournament in a row, McGrane has posted a score in the 60s in the first round – yet after failing to break par on Friday in his three previous events, the job now is to keep the engine running.
Certainly the indications were good for McGrane. He hit 10 of 14 fairways, found 12 of 18 greens in regulation but scrambled well to save par five out of six times and had 10 one-putt greens.
The many long hours the Meathman has invested in his short game and putting in recent months appear to be paying off.
Darren Clarke would have liked McGrane's putting touch on the slick, super-quick greens at the Ernie Els course at Copperleaf as he completed his first round on Tour in six weeks in 69 strokes for a share of 22nd place.
Clarke struck the ball sublimely as he found 13 fairways and 15 greens in regulation and didn't have a bogey on his card.
Just three birdies was poor reward for such an impressive performance from tee to green.
Peter Lawrie, David Higgins and Michael Hoey all must shoot well below par today to make the weekend. Dubliner Lawrie shot 73 after back-to-back bogeys at 14 and 15. Higgins stumbled to a 74 and Hoey signed for a 75. Fichardt (37) was one stroke clear of Bjorn Akesson overnight.
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