O’Hara, Kruger lead at Serengeti

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Steven O’Hara and Jbe Kruger were tied for the lead midway through Thursday’s first round of the SA Open.

Scot Steven O’Hara and South African Jbe Kruger were tied for the lead midway through Thursday’s first round of the SA Open Championship at Serengeti .

And for O’Hara especially that’s critical.

At 134th on The Race to Dubai standings, the 31 year old needs a top four finish this week to keep his European Tour card next year and his opening 7-under par 65 has put him on track to achieving just that.

Clubhouse leaders O’Hara and Kruger are a shot clear of two-time US and SA Open champion Retief Goosen,

But five-time SA Open champion Ernie Els was just setting off in his title defence.

O’Hara eagled the long eighth and had six birdies, his only dropped shot coming on the 445 yard fourth.

A Top four finish is O’Hara’s prime target, but he says he would gladly take a Top 10 as that would earn him a place in next week’s UBS Hong Kong Open and give him one more crack at getting the prize money he needs to keep his Tour card next year.

Goosen, who like Els, has just dropped outside the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50, chipped in for an eagle on the 382 yard second – his 11th – and to move into the lead at 7-under before bogeying the seventh and eighth.

The second of those was particularly disappointing as he had elected to lay up on the par five, but it helped that his approach at 18 finished inches away from a closing hole-in-one after his ball trickled down the slope behind the flag.

“I probably should have gone for the green at the eighth,” Goosen said. “It was a bit of a poor finish, but I got lucky on the last.”

England’s Simon Dyson, at 32nd on the Official World Golf Ranking list and the highest-ranked player in the field, finished with two birdies for a 70, while ex-Ryder Cup player Phillip Price, just inside the cut-off at 117th on The Race to Dubai, was five under with three to play and doing his hopes of extending his European Tour career no end of good.

Last week’s winner Garth Mulroy was alongside him and Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, currently in the Race To Dubai hot seat of 118th this season, handed in a three under 69.

Maybin and Kapur are both in the field for the UBS Hong Kong Open, but O’Hara and Price are currently not.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD

-7 Steven O’Hara (Sco), Jbe’ Kruger (RSA)
-6 Retief Goosen (RSA, David Hewan (RSA), Merrick Bremner (RSA)
-5 Shaun Norris (RSA), Jean Hugom (RSA) Garth Mulroy (RSA)
-4 Soren Hansen (DEN), Mark Brown (NZL), David Frost (RSA), Trevor Fisher Jnr (RSA) Phillip Price (WAL), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA), Jared Harvey (RSA AMA)

Note: All the above had comleted their rounds

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