English duo in hunt at Joburg Open as Keenan Davidse holds lead

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South African Keenan Davidse overcame illness to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Joburg Open.

The local favourite missed the cut in Mauritius last week as a flu virus ran through his family, and checked himself into hospital for four days before teeing it up at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg.

The 28-year-old showed no ill effects as he got round the Bushwillows Course in an eight under par 63 to lead the way from English duo Matthew Baldwin and James Morrison, South African trio Jared Harvey, Ockie Strydom and Erik van Rooyen, and German Sebastian Heisele.

A field of 240 were split over the Bushwillows and Firethorn courses, with all players playing the longer Firethorn over the weekend after the cut.

Davidse took advantage of his round on the shorter layout, birdieing the first, fourth, fifth, eighth, 11th, 12th, 14th, 17th and 18th with a single bogey on the sixth.

“When I played the Sunshine Tour event at Simola my little boy was sick with a bad chest,” he told europeantour.com.

“Then my wife had flu and then I got flu and lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t deal with that and the heat in Mauritius so I checked myself into hospital for four days.

“I didn’t really have any expectations coming into the week. I’m just out here to have fun, so I’m very blessed to be playing well. It’s always nice leading a big tournament and especially the Joburg Open.”

Baldwin had to come through the European Tour Qualifying School in November after losing his playing privileges and he carded eagles on the par-five first and 12th to go with four birdies and a bogey, with Morrison bogey-free in his round of 64.

English pair Nathan Kimsey and Richard McEvoy were at six under, a shot ahead of countrymen Daniel Brooks and Ross McGowan.

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