JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Nic Henning, who possesses the worst possible world ranking of joint 1,555th, belied his lowly golfing status by shooting a West Course record-tying nine-under 62 to lead after the Joburg Open first round on Thursday.
The 45-year-old South African fired five birdies and an eagle in a remarkable outward 29 and at that stage looked capable of returning the European Tour’s first 59.
Henning then managed only two birdies on the back nine and had to settle for a one-stroke lead over compatriots Titch Moore and Tjaart van der Walt and Belgian Thomas Pieters.
“That was fantastic, I haven’t shot 29 for a couple of years and on the last hole of that front stretch I told myself I had to make a birdie and I did that,” Henning told reporters at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Club.
“I’ve been playing well for the last few months but my scores haven’t showed it.
“Over the last few years my scores have been really terrible and it’s nice to have a good round under the belt to prove to myself that I can still play well. It’s been a long time since I shot 62.”
Henning has not managed a top-10 finish for five years but is looking good to do so in a Joburg Open field that started with 210 players.
Pieters appeared as though he would have the low round of the day before bogeying two of his last three holes.
European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke found the going a lot harder as he carded an even-par 72 on the tougher East Course, a round that included two double-bogeys.
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Tony Jimenez