TROWBRIDGE professional Steve Surry made a solid start to his latest Sunshine Tour event in South Africa this morning.
The Cumberwell Park ace shot a two-under-par round of 69 at the East London Golf Club to lie five shots off the early pace in the Africa Open.
Surry, who missed the cut in last week's Joburg Open, carded birdies at the third, 15th and 18th as low scoring became the order of the day.
Garth Mulroy was leading the South African contingent out to maintain their remarkable dominance of events on home soil.
George Coetzee's victory in the Joburg Open last Sunday means nine of the last 12 European Tour events staged in South Africa have been won by home players, with all four previous Africa Opens won by South Africans.
And although Coetzee was not in East London after withdrawing from the event in order to prepare for next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, Mulroy took up the challenge with an opening 64 to set the early clubhouse target.
Mulroy carded six birdies, an eagle and one bogey to finish seven under par, one shot ahead of Scotland's David Drysdale, whose playing partner David Horsey was a shot further back after a 66.
Players took advantage of the calm conditions on a course measuring just 6,632 yards. That is extremely short by modern standards and with no wind blowing in from the adjacent Indian Ocean, a repeat of the winning total of 27 under recorded by former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen in 2012 was on the cards.
Mulroy was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Welshman Rhys Davies, who had bogeyed his opening hole but then recorded eight birdies - including three in the last four holes - to complete a 64.
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