Eagle has the Goose flying high

Robert Allenby leads the Nedbank Challenge after day one, but Retief Goosen had the most to celebrate.

Australian Robert Allenby’s 4-under 68 gave him the lead after Thursday’s Opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, but local favourite Retief Goosen had the most to celebrate even though he is a shot back in a second-place tie with fellow South African Tim Clarke.
That’s because Goosen won a Volvo S80 sedan for an eagle two at the 480-yard 17th – but perhaps, more important, because that eagle put him right back into contention after losing the lead at four-under with a bogey and double bogey, both times after driving deep into the bushveld and having to take a penalty drops.
Choosing to play in the 12-man inviational event rather than the Australian Open, Allenby began his bid to win the 29-year-old tournament, and take the $1.2-million (£720,000) winner’s share of the $4.385-million purse from the elite 12-man invitational field with the only bogey-free performance of the day.
Three of his birdies came on par fives and the other was on the 493-yard par four fifth.
“I used driver whenever I could,” said Allenby.
“There are some holes on this course where you just can’t use driver and when you get into trouble, it helps that you can get it up and down like I did today.”
Goosen was alongside him with five to play, but strayed into the bush for a bogey six on the long 14th and double bogey at the 474-yard next.
His blunders came as a surprise as before this he had been playing immaculate golf.
Clarke, despite his second-place tie, felt, on the other hand, that he never really got in to top gear,.
He said: “I knew I wasn’t playing my best, but that if I hung in there, I’d get a decent score.”
Goosen’s playing partner Robert Karlsson also reached four under, but double-bogeyed the 17th and dropped back alongside compatriot and defending champion Henrik Stenson and American Hunter Mahan.
Rory McIlroy appeared out of sorts from the start and was reported to have been put on a drip during the two-hour thunderstorm suspension.
Northern Ireland’s world number 10 stumbed with six bogies as against five birdies, two of them on the last two holes, but a one-over 73 left the 20-year-old bringing up the rear with England’s Ross Fisher and American Nick Watney.
Luke Donald was one better than that thanks to a closing birdie which continued his recovery from a double-bogey seven at the second and bogey on the next.
Even the player who finishes last walks away with £120,000, but with nobody more than five behind everything is still up for grabs for everyone one in the limited field.